Applying heat or cold to sore joints can temporarily relieve the pain and stiffness of osteoarthritis. Ask your doctor or physical therapist which method is best for you.
Heat helps to relax aching muscles.
Heat methods include: Electric blankets and mitts, heating pads, hot baths or showers, hot packs, hot towels, hot tubs, heated pools, and paraffin wax.
Cold can help numb the area to reduce pain.
Cold methods include: Cold compresses, an ice cube or cubes wrapped in a towel, bags of frozen vegetables (which may be easier to wrap around an injury), ice bags, and cold packs.
Tips for Using Heat & Cold
Time your use of heat or cold to give the best relief from pain or stiffness: for example, after you get out of bed in the morning or before exercise.
Don't use heat or cold for longer than 15 to 20 minutes each time. Let your skin return to normal temperature before using either again.
Don't use heat combined with medicated rubs or creams. Protect your skin. Always put a towel or cloth between your skin and heat or cold packs.