Knee arthritis: Should I use heat or ice?

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Knee arthritis affects millions of individuals all over the globe. The pain usually worsens with and after activity. Some individuals are still confused on what treatment option to use – heat or ice.

It is important to note that both modalities are highly effective in relieving pain if properly used. In addition, both are inexpensive treatment options and free from any side effects. The only vital point is to know when and how to use heat or cold in treating the pain brought about by knee arthritis.

When to use heat for knee arthritis

Knee arthritis
Ice packs and other cold therapies are used to minimize the discomfort of knee arthritis.

A warm bath, heating pad and other heat-based treatments are ideal before activity. The application of heat on the joint before activity helps improve the flow of blood, relax the muscles and prepare the joints for movement.

If a heating pad is used, it should be wrapped with a towel and placed on the knee for 15-20 minutes before activity or exercise. An electric heating pad can also be used, just make sure that it is not too hot.

Remember that when using heat therapy, avoid any burns. This is done by applying the heating pad less than 20 minutes at a time. When hot water bottles are used, do not fill them with boiling water.

When to use cold therapy

Ice packs and other cold therapies are used to minimize the discomfort of knee arthritis. Generally, cold is used to manage pain or injury that occurs after activity. The cold works by numbing the pain, reducing the swelling and block the nerve impulses to the joint.

In one study conducted, it reveals that cold therapy is effective in alleviating knee pain specifically ice massage. It helps improve the range of motion, function and overall knee strength among those with knee arthritis.

A pack of frozen peas or other vegetables that mold to the body is ideal for knee pain. Take note that if the pain does not seem to improve or continues to worsen, a doctor must be consulted to determine the suitable treatment.

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