For moderate to severe pain from osteoarthritis, try applying heat and cold to the affected joints. Experiment with these heat and cold techniques until you find what helps you most.
Apply heat 2 or 3 times a day for 20 to 30 minutes, using a heating pad, hot shower, or hot pack. Heat seems to be effective for pain and stiffness related to inactivity of a joint. If you are using an electric heating pad, avoid falling asleep while the pad is on. If you think you might fall asleep, set an alarm clock to go off in 20 minutes. Use heating pads set on low or medium, never on high.
Try putting cold packs on a painful joint for 10 to 20 minutes. Do not apply a cold pack directly to bare skin. Put a thin towel or pillowcase between the ice and your skin.
After a heat or cold treatment, try some gentle massage for relaxation and pain relief.
Paraffin wax is a form of moist heat that may help if you have pain and stiffness in your hands or feet. It is especially useful before exercise. Your physiotherapist can teach you to use paraffin at home.
Author: Healthwise Staff Medical Review: Anne C. Poinier MD - Internal Medicine Brian D. O'Brien MD - Internal Medicine Martin J. Gabica MD - Family Medicine Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine Joan Rigg PT, OCS - Physical Therapy
Medical Review:Anne C. Poinier MD - Internal Medicine & Brian D. O'Brien MD - Internal Medicine & Martin J. Gabica MD - Family Medicine & Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine & Joan Rigg PT, OCS - Physical Therapy
Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.