Dry heating pads, moist heating pads, disposable heat patches and microwavable hot packs are all suitable for easing arthritis pain, according to WebMD. Heat therapy dilates the blood vessels to improve circulation and reduce muscle spasms while also altering the sensation of pain.
When using heat therapy, patients should ensure the temperature is not hot enough to burn the skin, advises WebMD. The best times to use heat therapy are before and after exercise. Heat therapy can be used as many times as desired throughout the day to alleviate arthritis pain, and it should be used at least twice per day for the best results. In addition to using heating pads and hot packs, patients can take warm baths, relax in a heated swimming pool or apply a warm, moist washcloth to the sore area. Spas and hot tubs can also be used for heat therapy, but patients with high blood pressure or heart diseases should avoid them.
While some patients find heat therapy effective for relieving arthritis pain, others prefer cold therapy, explains WebMD. Ice packs can relieve inflammation and swelling in the joints. Patients can massage sore areas with ice for five to 10 minutes at least twice per day for the best results.