Are you suffering from arthritis and looking for an easy way to relieve the paining joints? You can easily treat pain and aches associated with arthritis by simply applying hot and cold therapy on the affected joints. According to medical specialists, there are different types of heat and cold therapies, such as hot shower, water bottle, ice pack, cooling cream, ice pack, etc.

The hot cold therapy is an inexpensive and convenient alternative treatment for alleviating inflammation, stiffness and pain from arthritis-affected joints. While heat helps in relaxing and lubricating muscles, cold can reduce pain, swelling and inflammation on the joints during activities.

You should use hot therapy whenever you feel joint stiffness and want to relieve muscles or simply to ease out a muscle spasm. The cold therapy is generally suggested for specific arthritis types that cause painful inflammation flash ups, such as pseudogout and gout. You may even benefit from hot and cold therapy if you’re suffering from osteoarthritis, ankylosing spondylitis and rheumatoid arthritis.

Alternating Hot and Cold Therapy

Some patients are suggested by doctors to alternate between hot and cold therapy. It depends on the patient’s condition, so always consult a physician before trying hot and cold therapy yourself at home.

Usually, a patient is suggested to use alternate hot and cold treatment in the following conditions:

  • If a patient has to perform a physical exercise, they’re suggested to use heat therapy for warming up their joints before the activity. After exercise, they have to use cold therapy to soothe the warmed up joints.
  • If a patient is told by their doctor to use hot therapy in the morning for loosening up their osteoarthritic knee, they have to use cold therapy as well for reducing inflammation a few hours later. This process can be repeated at different times of the day, depending on the patient’s condition.

Alternating hot and cold therapy has amazing arthritis management benefits provided each treatment method is used appropriately.

How to Use Hot and Cold Therapy

Hot and cold therapy is beneficial for many conditions and each treatment method is known for its appropriate use. However, you must not apply heat to any joint that’s already feeling hot, irritated and red. On the other hand, you must avoid using cold treatment to joints that are not moving well and are stiff.

Always remember that heat relaxes muscles and cold reduces pain and inflammation. Another important thing to note down is that when using hot and cold therapy for arthritis, you could damage the skin cells by exposing them to such extreme temperatures suddenly.

But here are a few recommendations to help you use heat therapy equipment like heat pack, warm water soak, heating pad, hot water bottle, etc carefully:

  • Place a warm towel or cloth just between the skin and the hot therapy heat source for preventing burns.
  • Ensure that temperature is not too hot, as it may put you at the risk of developing skin burns.
  • Avoid applying heat for more than 20 minutes or longer at a time.
  • Never apply hot pads or other heating tools to an injured or cut skin.

Recommendations for using cold therapy tools, including a bag of ice, a cold pack or a bag of frozen veggies, carefully:

  • Try to avoid using cold therapy if you are suffering from circulatory problems.
  • Use a towel or cloth between the skin and cold therapy source for preventing skin damage or irritation.
  • If you observe that your skin is blistering, becoming numb or getting blotchy, remove the cold therapy source immediately.
  • Avoid using a cold application on the skin for more than 20 minutes or longer at a time.


Using hot and cold therapy could be an effective treatment for many patients with arthritis. However, after using hot and cold therapy, evaluate your skin to see any sign of skin damage, such as rashes, blisters or colour changes. Do consult a physician before performing hot and cold therapy at home.

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