There are different types of arthritis, but rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic inflammatory disorder that usually affects a person’s joints. Apart from joints, it can damage various other body parts, including the lungs, skin, heart, and blood vessels.
A healthy person’s immune system combats invaders like viruses and bacteria. With rheumatoid arthritis, an autoimmune disorder, the immune system misinterprets the body’s cells as foreign intruders. As a result, the immune system discharges inflammatory chemicals that attack those misunderstood cells.
The symptoms of this type of arthritis include joint pain, swelling, tenderness, or stiffness, leading to a disturbed routine.
What is a rheumatoid arthritis flare-up?
Inflammatory arthritis activity typically varies, and your arthritis may sometimes be quite quiet and tolerable. Other times, the symptoms become severe, known as ‘flare or flare-up.’
A ‘flare’ may cause any of the following symptoms:
● Rise in joint swelling or stiffness
● Joint pain becomes worse
● Night sweats, fever, and weight loss
● An overall ‘unwell’ feeling
A flare is unexpected and might occur at any time. It might last hours, days, or weeks. Infections, such as a chest or urinary infection or physical or emotional stress, are examples of flare causes. In some circumstances, there is no discernible cause.
Osteopathic treatment from Tim Wood Healthcare may reduce the number of flares and lessen or prevent long-term joint damage.
How does heat therapy help rheumatoid arthritis?
Heat therapy may help when you want to soothe joint stiffness and promote easy movement. It increases blood flow to tissues and muscles, relaxing them and easing pain.
If you are experiencing joint pain, you may use heat treatment in the morning when the stiffness in joints is at its peak. Also, you can use heat treatment before exercising or undertaking any other physical activity to help joints warm up.
Types of heat therapy may include the following:
● Dry heat may involve using heat patches or pads or relaxing in a dry sauna.
● Moist heat may involve using a damp, warm compress, spending time in a hot shower, or getting into a steam sauna.
● A warm bath, or paraffin bath may be specifically used when foot or hand joints are stiff.
Take the following precautions while using heat therapy:
● When using a heating pad (one of the most common types), ensure it is not too hot.
Also, always follow your osteopath’s instructions when it comes to how long you use your heat pack for, and how often.
Contact an Osteopath at Tim Wood Healthcare to know if heat therapy is right for your situation. They may also suggest other treatment options to ease your pain.
How cold therapy helps rheumatoid arthritis?
The basic mechanism of cold therapy is to constrict blood vessels and slow the blood flow rate. This, in turn, may help ease chronic stiffness and pain.
Cold therapy may be especially helpful when swollen and inflamed joints accompany rheumatoid arthritis flare-ups. It may help in the following ways:
● Easy inflammation by restricting blood flow to joints
● Limits swelling by minimising the creation and buildup of fluids in joints
● Decelerate pain signals to the brain
Sometimes, the swelling can be a result of soft tissue and sports injuries. So, you should chat with an Osteopath at Tim Wood Healthcare to know the exact cause of your pain and get effective treatment.
However, you should take the following precautions while using heat therapy:
● Use cold patches for not more than 15 minutes
● Place a protective layer or towel between the cold pack and your skin
● You can use cold therapy more than once a day, but make sure that your skin returns to its normal temperature before starting another session
● If you have nerve damage, Raynaud syndrome, or gout, avoid applying a cold pack to the affected area. As always, if in doubt – contact us to learn what’s best for your situation.
Cold therapy is easy and cost-effective. You can use reusable cold packs or make them at home. For example, ice is sealed in a sandwich bag or a bag of frozen vegetables.
What to do when heat and cold therapy fails?
Osteopathy may help manage the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis and improve overall quality of life.
Osteopathy is a manual therapy that emphasises the musculoskeletal system’s role in maintaining overall health. Osteopaths at Tim Wood Healthcare focus on the relationship between the body’s structure and function and aim to improve the body’s natural ability to heal itself.
● One of the main goals of osteopathy for rheumatoid arthritis is to relieve pain and stiffness in the affected joints. Osteopaths may use gentle manual techniques to improve joint mobility, reduce inflammation, and promote healing.
● Rheumatoid arthritis can affect the alignment of the joints and spine, leading to poor posture and further joint damage. Osteopaths may help improve alignment and posture through manual techniques, such as spinal manipulation and mobilisation.
● Osteopathy may help reduce stress and anxiety by promoting relaxation and improving overall well-being. Osteopaths may use techniques such as gentle massage and mindfulness practices to help patients feel more relaxed and at ease.
● Osteopathy may help support the immune system by enhancing circulation and reducing inflammation. By improving overall health and well-being, osteopathy may help strengthen the body’s natural defences and reduce the risk of infection.
Pain, be it in any form, is inconvenient. Pain from rheumatoid arthritis can be manageable sometimes, while it can flare up other times, causing more pain. In the worst case, it might require robust treatments like surgery.
It is also important to note that swelling and joint pain can also result from an injury rather than arthritis. So, chat with an Osteopath to understand your health concerns.
So, be it soft tissue and sports injuries or rheumatoid arthritis, you may find effective treatment options here at Tim Wood Healthcare.