BoCo - Heat It Up to Keep it Down
What is arthritis and are we all susceptible to getting it? To put it basically, arthritis is the swelling and tenderness felt in the joints. This could be localized to just a finger to all the joints of your body. The symptoms of pain and stiffness usually worsen with age. Two most common types of arthritis we encounter are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.
The difference between them is that Osteoarthritis is a degenerative disease that causes the breakdown of the cartilage between your joints. Most common areas affected are the hands, knees, and hips. When the cartilage starts to break down, the bones begin to change and functionality is reduced. Unlike Osteoarthritis, Rheumatoid arthritis causes chronic inflammation in the joints rather than affecting the cartilage in your joints. This condition can actually cause more damage to other parts of your body like your eyes, lungs, skin, heart, and blood vessels. Both diseases are painful and the common symptoms they share are pain, stiffness, redness, swelling, and decreased mobility.
Although most Americans will experience a form of arthritis, it is not a singular disease. It is one of the most common ailments we experience but it is still not fully understood. There are more than 100 types of arthritis and accompanying symptoms. Some damage can be physically noticeable however many forms of arthritis can only be detected through X-rays. Even children are susceptible to getting a form of arthritis. It is advised to regularly get checked by your physician to detect early signs of this disease and get a correct diagnosis. Although everyone may not suffer from arthritis, it is clear that it is the leading cause of disability in America and early detection will help preserve healthy joint function.
As we go into the colder months of the year, your arthritis symptoms may worsen due to the climate. Even those who do not have the disease feel the stiffening of joints at this time. The best and most recommended tip to combat the pain is to apply heat on your affected joints. We do not recommend foregoing any medication that is prescribed for your pain, use heat as a complementary therapy in conjunction with your physician’s recommended procedures.
Heat therapy includes taking a steamy shower or bath to reduce stiffness. Think about it as lubricating your body internally so that your range of motion will increase and you can face your daily activities with more vigor. A healthy water temperature is between 92-100 degrees. You can use your bath or a heated pool to do a stretching routine. The water reduces the force of gravity on your joints and you are supported from the buoyancy of the water surrounding your body. Keep these activities in hot water under 20 minutes.
You can’t take a bath every hour so what can you do for the pain in the interim? A hot compress such as this reusable heating pad is a lifesaver. It is recommended to treat areas for 20 minutes at a time and then rest for at least 30 before you apply another hot compress. The heat pads in this set come in a variety of sizes so you can treat multiple areas of your body at once. OR you can take one pad, wrap it up in a towel (to protect your skin) and since the heat lasts an average of 45 minutes, you can easily treat two areas of your body with one session.
Aside from the relief of arthritis pain, using a heat pad is relaxing and an easily accessible comfort for these cold months. Check with your doctor to see how you can prevent the onset of arthritis. In the meantime, treat yourself with a nice long bath and a cozy heat pad.