How to Use Heat and Cold to Ease Your Loved One’s Arthritis Pain

January 26, 2017

Elderly Care in Darien NY

Arthritis pain can flare up for a variety of reasons ranging from overuse of the joint to changing weather conditions. When it does flare up, your loved one needs something that can help her relieve the pain and both heat and cold therapies can do that for her.

Why Do Heat and Cold Work Well?

Both heat and cold help to reduce inflammation in your loved one’s joints, but they do it in different ways. Heat therapy dilates your loved one’s blood vessels, which results in an increase in blood circulation. It can also help to reduce the feeling of pain and ease spasms in the muscles around your loved one’s joints. Cold, on the other hand, constricts your loved one’s blood vessels and can also help to slow down swelling.

Using Heat

There are two types of heat therapy that your loved one might use: Moist heat and dry heat. Dry heat includes items such as heating pads or self-activated heat packs. Moist heat involves treatments such as a hot shower or bath or moist heat created from heating a washcloth or other pad with hot water. Your elderly loved one might find that some heat therapies work better than others do for her. Use a barrier between the heat source and your loved one’s skin and watch for redness and other signs of burning.

Using Cold

Cold treatments include items such as ice in a zippered plastic bag or a cold pack that you keep in a freezer. In a pinch, even a bag of frozen peas can work quite well. An ice bath is another option, if that’s something that your elderly loved one feels that she can tolerate. Reusable gel packs that you can keep in the freezer are easy to mold around your loved one’s joints when she’s in pain. Too much cold for too long can cause damage to your loved one’s skin just like heat can, so protect her skin with a barrier of fabric and remove the cold source after 10 to 15 minutes.

Finding a Balance

Your elderly loved one may find that both cold and heat work well for her at different times. For that reason, you might want to keep both types of pain relief on hand at all times. Then your elderly loved one can use either whenever she starts experiencing pain.

Work with your loved one’s doctors, elderly care providers, and other family members to help her spot and treat arthritis flares quickly so that she’s not experiencing more pain than she should.

If you or an aging loved one are considering elderly care in Darien, NY, contact Star One Home Care and Medical Staffing at 718-733-2222 or 914-362-0899.  Call today!

Patricia Coffie, RN, BSN, MFA

Patricia Coffie, RN, BSN, MFA

Director of Client Services at Star One Home Care
Patricia Coffie, RN, BSN, MFA is Director of Client Services & Director of Phoenix Nurse Aide Training Center. Before assuming the post in 2012, Patricia was the Director or Nursing & Service Delivery at WRC for 3 years where she was the strategic lead for nursing and services to members.

Patricia started her nursing career 19 years ago at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center and research institution in New York City, and since then has gained experience in Adult Intensive Care Units (ICU) , Pediatric Care (PICU ), Operating Room (OR) , mental health and community settings. She later moved into director of nursing roles, where she obtained extensive experience in leading and developing the nursing profession. She also pioneered good partnership working with other health care organizations, as well as social services, and the wider community.
Patricia Coffie, RN, BSN, MFA

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