Applying Heat And Cold For Arthritis
When to Apply Heat. There are two types of heat therapy. Dry heat, or conducted heat, comes from sources like dry heating packs, saunas or heating pads. These easy to apply methods are ideal for mild stiffness or when arthritis pain is limited to a small area. Moist heat, or convection heat, comes from wet or moist heating sources. Hot baths, steam rooms, moist heating packs or even steamed towels can offer the same benefit as dry heat therapy in smaller amounts of time. Regardless of the type, applying heat to an affected area loosens the muscle or joint, relieves pain and offers some flexibility to the area. Use heat first thing in the morning, before exercising or whenever arthritis discomfort threatens to sideline you from daily activities.
When to Apply Cold. Many people who suffer from arthritis pain complain of burning in their muscles and joints. Applying gel ice packs or frozen vegetables can reduce inflammation and numb painful, burning areas. Cold therapy can be applied for as little as ten minutes, but no more than 20 minutes per application. It can also be used several times a day, throughout the day. Regardless of the source, never put frozen items directly on the skin. Not only is it uncomfortable, it can damage the skin, soft tissues and nerves.
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