Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Moist Heat Works

No doubt you’ve sprained your ankle once or twice. Or, if you are of a certain age, you have probably felt an ache or two that can be chalked up to a pulled muscle, or the beginnings of arthritis. You might be among the millions who suffer from one of the many forms of arthritis. We’ve written here about arthritis on several occasions. See our previous blogs here.

We all seem to have that instinct when pain arrives whether from a sprain or the first twinges of arthritis to get some ice to the site. And, for the most part that instinct is right. Applying cold therapies to acute situations is an important first measure. We’ll right more about cold therapies a bit later on. For now, let’s discuss heat therapy, especially moist heat treatments.

Applying heat is preferred once an acute situation has become chronic, or once the initial swelling from the acute situation has subsided. Moist heat works extremely well for pain, stiffness and secondary muscle spasms in cases of chronic arthritis. Pain in the lower back, neck and jaw (TMJ) respond well to frequent moist heat treatments. Use also in cases of degenerative joint diseases, soft tissue traumatic arthritis and inflammation of joints causing bursitis and other conditions. (There are, of course, situations where heat is never the preferred approach. Always discuss treatments, even home treatments, with your physician.)

Moist heat is often preferred over dry heat because it provides deeper penetration of the tissue and muscles at the same temperature. It also has the ability to change the temperature of the tissues in questions, thereby obtaining more effective response from the nerve endings.

Using moist therapies that retain warmth to the touch for 30 minutes or more is essential to get the full value of moist heat. Baths, moist heated towels, saunas, and hot water bottles are some of the common sources of moist heat therapy. There are also numerous products on the market that help you achieve relief from moist heat. Many contain beads that when heated release enough moisture to create the soothing and healing effects of moist heat. Others contain gel-like substances that retain heat for long periods of time, while delivering an almost “icy hot” sensation to the affected area.

We are ever on the search for products that help with arthritis. It is one of the most popular reasons people come to Capabilities. We were happy to find a brand new line of arthritis relief products, Therall. Available from one of our trusted suppliers of braces and orthopedic wear, FLA, we already love the simplicity and effectiveness of this line. There are essentially three categories of therapeutic products available through Therall. One features the characteristic beads mentioned above. Therall Foot Warmers, sporting a comfy fleece exterior, become a pleasing temperature when warmed in a microwave. Intended only for use while seating or lying down, these foot warmers provide instant relief to tired, aching feet. Used on a regular basis the foot warmers help improve circulation when combined with exercise and regular foot care.

Because we see so many customers every day with aching backs, we were happy to learn as we investigated this line of arthritis relief that back care features prominently. The Therall Moist Heat Pad offers a large enough surface to use on the back, thigh, or other large muscle areas. It is flexible enough, however, to work well on necks, shoulders and smaller areas. Once heated the oval-shaped pack releases heat slowly and evenly to the affected area.

This product also comes in the form of wraps for joint areas, ankles, knees, wrists.
The Therall Joint Warming Knee Support, for example, is constructed with four-way stretch material for light compression to counteract swelling. The material has ceramic fibers that insulate the joint by retaining heat and slowly reflecting it back into the joint and surrounding tissues. The result is therapeutic heat penetrated deep into the aching joint, muscles and surrounding tissues to provide long-lasting, soothing relief. Circulation around the tender joint is enhanced, thereby improving joint mobility to allow for faster return to daily activities. This support can be used with the Therall Body Warmer Patch (sold separately) for over 12 hours of soothing heat therapy.

Finally, we liked their ointment choices. They offer two, one mentholated for simpler aches and pains, The other, Capsaicin HP, is a powerful ointment that contains purified capsaicin, a natural pain reliever that occurs (famously now after much has been written about it) in hot peppers. This triple strength formula goes up against some of the best known names for topical arthritis pain relief.

The pain and discomfort of arthritis stops many in their tracks, affecting their ability to enjoy everyday activities. For some, work becomes impossible as the pain grows. Getting a handle on arthritis in its early stages can help you manage this condition over long periods of time. Moist heat therapies in conjunction with exercise, the right diet and proper sleep, will help ease the inflammation that is at the heart of arthritis.

Tell us your story. We are always interested to get information on how you cope, what works for you, what does not.

No comments: