‘Dry heat’ options include things like heat pads, wheat bags, and hot water bottles, as to which one may work best for you depends on where the pain is located. If it’s your neck and shoulders that trouble you, you may want to try something like the Heat Pad For Neck And Shoulders as it’s specially shaped to better target your aches and pains, easing away muscle tension and helping you to relax. For your lower back, the Lower Back Heat Pad Kit may help or you can keep things simple and soothe your aches and pains with a hot water bottle.
When to stop using heat therapy
As the old saying goes, you can have too much of a good thing. It’s of little use easing joint pain with heat if you end up inadvertently burning yourself in the process. If you’re using wheat packs or hot water bottles make sure to keep a cover between it and your skin and follow the instructions given with any heat-based product. Some may only recommend using them for short periods of time to help avoid burns.
Don’t persevere with it if you’re becoming overheated or if it’s not helping you. Avoid it entirely if you’re already hot or your joints are inflamed. No pain no gain is not a motto to live by here.
Some pre-existing health conditions may make it inadvisable to use heat therapy, such as diabetes or vascular diseases. If in doubt, always check with a medical professional first before trying heat therapy.
What to try if heat therapy doesn’t work
If you’ve tried heat therapy before and it doesn’t work, or if you dread the warmer weather due to increased pain in your joints, you may want to try cold therapy instead by applying ice/gel packs or hot water bottles filled with cold water. Make sure to remove them after a maximum of 20 minutes though, to avoid hurting yourself.
Cold therapy can be great for those times when your joints are inflamed as it could help to ease off the inflammation and so reduce your pain.
Please don’t feel disheartened if cold nor heat works for you. Everyone experiences symptoms differently, which means that what works for one person may not work for another.
Where to turn for support
Versus Arthritis, an arthritis support charity, have a wealth of information with tips, advice, and suggestions to help those living with arthritis.
If you’re finding pain management difficult, please speak with your doctor for further advice and support.
If you’re finding it difficult to complete your daily tasks as normal, you may find an assessment with an Occupational Therapist can help to make your life easier as they can suggest products or alternative ways of doing tasks to help you out. You can find out more about our Occupational Therapist assessments here.