Heat and cold treatments are easy methods you can use at home to reduce the pain and stiffness of arthritis. Cold packs can numb the painful area and reduce inflammation and swelling. They are especially good for joint pain caused by a flare of arthritis. Heat, on the other hand, relaxes muscles and stimulates blood circulation.
Heat and cold can be applied to joints in a number of ways. Cold may be applied with commercially available cold packs that can be placed in your freezer and refrozen, as needed. You can make your own cold pack by wrapping a towel around a bag of frozen peas or a sealable sandwich bag filled with ice.
Heat may be dry or moist. Dry heat sources include heat lamps or heating pads. Moist heat sources include warm baths, hot tubs or spas, washcloths soaked in warm water and paraffin baths, which involve placing the affected joint, usually those of the hand or wrist, into a container of melted paraffin, which adheres to skin, giving warmth.
The Arthritis Foundation’s Guide to Managing Your Arthritis, by Mary Anne Dunkin, copyright ©2001, Arthritis Foundation
For more information about ways to effectively manage your arthritis, or to purchase a copy of Guide to Managing Your Arthritis,
call (800) 283-7800.