Arthritis Pain Treatment Using Hot and Cold Packs
Pain and stiffness in the joints are a daily challenge for those who have arthritis, rheumatism, and other related degenerative bone diseases. While many people think of arthritis as a common part of old age, it can affect nearly anyone.
Arthritis is a common cause of joint pain. It can cause a loss of mobility, pain, discomfort, and disability from a lack of joint movement. The Jersey City arthritis pain treatment specialists of Jersey Premier Pain can give you guidance about how to use hot and cold packs to help reduce your pain and improve mobility. Call us today at 201-386-8800 for an appointment with our pain specialist and learn how we can help relieve your pain and stiffness.
Types of Arthritis
Arthritis pain comes in many different forms and can affect a variety of areas in your body. You may experience pain for a short time or it can be continuous and long-lasting.
Arthritis is an umbrella term that includes more than 100 types of arthritis and related diseases. It affects the joints and triggers inflammation or swelling. However, six types of arthritis are more commonly diagnosed. These include:
Osteoarthritis: When you think of arthritis, this is likely the type that comes to mind. Osteoarthritis affects nearly 30 million U.S. adults and is often referred to as “wear-and-tear” arthritis. Patients are mostly affected in the large joints of the hips and knees, as well as the hands. Degeneration within the joint causes the loss of cartilage, inflexibility, and pain.
Unlike other autoimmune forms of arthritis, osteoarthritis does not affect the organs and only affects the joints. This type of arthritis is more commonly associated with age. It can follow years later after an injury or trauma. At this time, there is no cure for the condition, but there are many things we can do to help reduce your pain.
Rheumatoid arthritis: Rheumatoid arthritis affects nearly 1.5 million Americans. It is an autoimmune disease that attacks healthy cells in the body. It often begins in the membranes that line the joints and triggers a buildup of inflammation, swelling, and pain. The condition produces chronic symptoms which can recede for several days or even months.
The frequency of symptom flare-ups will vary from person to person. Despite living in the same environment and having the same genetic markers, individuals may have quite different symptoms. This makes it difficult for researchers to find a specific cause behind rheumatoid arthritis.
Psoriatic arthritis: Psoriatic arthritis is another autoimmune disease in which the immune system becomes overactive. It can trigger swelling and stiffness in the joints and surrounding tissues. According to the National Psoriasis Foundation, 30 percent of people who have psoriasis may ultimately develop psoriatic arthritis. The autoimmune disease can cause red patches of skin with silvery scales as well as classic joint pain and stiffness. Psoriatic arthritis can affect nearly every joint in your body, including your spine. Disease flare-ups are unpredictable and often are followed by a period of remission.
Lupus: Lupus affects an estimated 1.5 million Americans. It’s an autoimmune disease that produces widespread inflammation. This can affect the joints, skin, kidneys, blood vessels, brain, and lungs. For many people, lupus flares infrequently. This means they can be in remission for months and even years.
Fibromyalgia: Fibromyalgia triggers pain throughout the body, causes sleeping issues, and fatigue. Many also experience stress from the symptoms. They may have a lower perception of pain than other people, which is referred to as abnormal pain perception processing. The condition affects about two percent of the population. While researchers have not found a cause, there are effective treatments, exercises, and pain management protocols that reduce symptoms.
Gout: Gout does not cause body-wide inflammation but is a form of inflammatory arthritis. The condition is triggered by high levels of uric acid that build up in the blood and form crystals in the joints. When left untreated they can form lumps. The most common joint to be affected is the big toe. A gout flare can happen suddenly. After it subsides, treatment often includes uric acid-reducing drugs to manage future flare-ups.
You can also help reduce inflammation and control your arthritis through exercise, diet, avoiding certain foods, and by taking supplements.
How Does Heat Help Arthritis?
Heat can help relax joints that have become stiff and immobile. This is especially helpful first thing in the morning. Chronic conditions like fibromyalgia or lower back pain also respond well to heat. Many people find that soaking in warm water or using wet heat compresses helps reduce pain and inflammation and improves mobility.
This is one of the safest forms of complementary therapy. As the joint warms, blood vessels get larger, which allows more blood and oxygen to be delivered to the injured tissue. Increasing circulation improves the relaxation of stiff muscles and joints. However, if you have an acute injury or are having an arthritic flare, it’s better to use cold therapy.
You can consider incorporating heat into your daily routine by taking a hot shower at the time of day when you have the most stiffness and pain. The water should not be too hot as it can affect your heart and burn your skin. If you take a shower before your workout, it helps prepare tight joints for exercise. Soaking in a warm bathtub can also help loosen joints and reduce stress. Consider adding Epsom salts, which have the added benefit of boosting your magnesium level and relaxing your muscles.
How Does Cold Help Arthritis?
Cold has the opposite effect on your joints and muscles that heat does. Cold helps reduce blood flow and decrease inflammation. When you have a sudden onset of swelling or redness, cold treatments work best for a few days. It can also temporarily relieve pain from arthritis.
There are several ways you can incorporate cold therapy into your daily routine. A cool water soak in the bathtub is a simple method of cooling down the joints, as long as the water is not so cold you become chilled. Putting cold packs directly on an aching joint can help reduce pain. Look for cold packs that can mold to your joint, such as a bag of frozen peas or a gel pack.
If the cold does not feel good to you, or you don’t get any relief, you can stop using it. People with Raynaud’s syndrome should avoid or limit using cold therapy. This is a condition where the small vessels in the fingers or toes constrict when exposed to the cold.
Contact Jersey Premier Pain Today
Living with pain is exhausting and stressful. It’s important to work with an experienced pain management specialist to control your pain and improve your mobility. It’s the goal of the Jersey City arthritis pain treatment specialists of Jersey Premier Pain to find the source of your pain and help you to manage your symptoms.
We serve patients throughout Jersey City in a comfortable and compassionate environment. Call our office today at 201-386-8800 to schedule an appointment. We’ll discuss your condition and determine the best course of treatment for you.