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Heat vs. Cold for Fast Pain Relief

Aug 17, 2008
Do you know how to help your unique chronic joint, muscle and bone pains? It's close at hand, relatively cheap and pretty easy to come by. And even if you are away from home, it can be improvised.

Well, the answer is heat or cold treatments for pain relief. Sounds easy. But which one do YOU use? And when do you use it?

Here are some guidelines.

Rule #1: You and only you know how this kind of process benefits YOUR specific kind of arthritic pain. That's why it suits you rather than someone else.
Whether you've decided that ice or heat is your ally for that chronic aching joint, there are some important facts you need to know.

Knowledge of these facts will help you from creating even more pain! (Wouldn't that just be the icing on the cake? No pun intended!)

As a card-carrying member of the Arthritis Club, you've probably had at least one round of physical therapy to your credit. So you have a good idea of the "what" and "how to" of this temperature deal.

Rule #2: Sounds silly: Do not burn or freeze the affected painful area. Told you it'd sound silly. But don't listen to that "helpful" elf-voice that ALWAYS tries to convince us that if "a little is good", then "more" would be so MUCH better!!! (You really should do something about that elf! THAT would be much better for your health.)

Let's break it down: Heat treatment might mean using a heating pad, a moist heat wrap/pad, or basic hot water bottle. A patch that warms over several hours to ease pain is another option.

General medical consensus is that warm, moist heat is the first choice. It's soothing, manageable, and not too drastic for the inflammation. This heat can penetrate and not dry your skin.

Rule #3: If you use heat, you need to be careful how long and how much pressure goes into your treatment. Moderate heat is effective. The heat source should not be wrapped tightly around the knee, elbow, back, etc. in order to do its job.

Keep the heat on for about 20 minutes, and then remove it. Your doctor may have directed you to repeat the heat again after 20 minutes. Or he/she may have told you to use this heat regimen at 3 different times during the day.

Rule #4: Never apply heat over a topical, adhesive skin patch whose chemicals are already creating a heat source for your pain. Same goes for putting a tight ace bandage over one of those patches. You could cause a serious burn.

Rule #5: Never lie on top of a heating pad, moist or dry. This adds pressure to the area you are aiming to help.

Pain treatment with cold/ice can be accomplished with an ice bag or chemical ice packs. Even cracked ice cubes in a plastic bag or a bag of frozen vegetables will do the job.

Rule #6: Wrap the ice in a moist towel or cloth before placing it against your skin. Ice can also "burn" your skin if left on too long. Again, the 20 minute rule applies: Twenty minutes on, then take it off.

Each arthritis sufferer is unique. Usually heat is more desirable in the morning to relieve stiffness and pain to get joints moving. Night-time is the right time to enlist the ice-man to soothe the pain and soreness from your daily activities.

However, you could feel just the opposite! Maybe you use only ice, or only heat, when you want pain relief. Don't you feel special?

If all of this seems "much ado about nothing", think again. This small, simple technique lets you handle a part of your own recovery plan. And this is power. You are taking control to make yourself feel better, and this is one giant step in the positive direction.

Heat and ice are convenient, available, and inexpensive. Just make your choice, and have a new day!
About the Author
Clydette Clayton is a specialist in Pain Relief. She overcame pain herself using the same natural pain relieftechniques that she now shares with others. Access her free newsletter on Pain Relief by going to http://www.1MinutePainRelief.com and entering your name and email in the form provided.
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