2. Hot and Cold Compresses
While hot and cold compresses may seem like a bit of an old wives’ tale when it comes to treating rheumatoid arthritis, this couldn’t be further from the truth. Hot and cold therapy is often suggested by doctors and physical therapists in order to effectively relieve arthritis pain. Commonly referred to as thermotherapy, it’s believed that hot and cold compresses can help soothe stiff joints, painful muscles and lack of mobility.
When applied to affected areas, hot compresses work by dilating blood vessels, stimulating circulation of the blood and reducing muscle tension. Hot compresses can work wonders on various types of arthritis, especially when applied in the morning and before exercise. Heat therapy can be administered in different ways, like disposable heat patches, hot water bottles, microwaveable wheat packs, warm baths or showers, or a warm, moist towel.
Cold compresses work differently to heat compresses, but they’re just as effective. Cold temperatures can ease pain and inflammation, decrease muscle spasms and reduce swelling by constricting the blood vessels and numbing the nerve endings. Cold compresses can be applied by ice packs (which you can make yourself by wrapping a cloth towel around a bag of frozen vegetables), cool baths, as well as cold sprays and ointments.
While hot and cold compresses won’t cure or prevent rheumatoid arthritis, they can provide relief from pain, and help reduce inflammation. It’s important to practice proper care when using ether remedy. This can be done by making sure heat compresses are not too hot they burn the skin, so carefully test the pack before you apply it to the affected area. And ensure you don’t use an ice pack for longer than 15 minutes at a time, as this can begin to cause damage to the sensitive nerve-endings and cause frostbite.