WHAT IS BETTER FOR BURSITIS – HEAT OR COLD?
People are full of helpful advice – Your neighbor, your mom, that lady off the street. Some good and some not so good, but when you are in pain all you want is for something to help and not cause further damage. As a corporate wellness specialist, I am always researching the best information from credible sources and experts on what is better for bursitis – heat or cold?
As it turns out, the best way to deal with a bursitis flare up is by alternating both cold and hot therapies because each has a different effect on the body.
How You Can Use Cold and Heat Therapy
Cold Therapy with ice packs or even ice baths causes a vasoconstrictive effect, which is when the blood vessels tighten and less blood flows through the vessel. This helps to reduce pain and inflammation and will give you immediate relief at the initial onset of bursitis pain. Apply a cold compress first, but for no more than 20 minutes and if you have sensitive skin, this may be even less.
Bursitis is caused when the bursae sacs, which are fluid filled cushions at the joints, become inflamed usually due to repetitive movement of the joint. The cold will help with the pain from inflammation, but it does stiffen the body. This is where heat therapy comes in.
Heat Therapy has the opposite effect and will open the blood vessels and cause the blood to flow. After the cold brings down the inflammation, you should be in less pain. This is when you want to apply a warm compress to help soothe the area and improve joint mobility. You will then slowly want to start stretching your elbow, shoulder, hip, knee, or your specific bursitis ailment.
During a flareup you will want to repeat this 2-3 times per day. There are certain compresses that you can chill and then microwave. Read the instructions on those products carefully to make sure that you don’t over heat them.
Staying active is important for overall well being, but with bursitis that can be hard. Learn more on exercising with bursitis here.
Need a solution while you work?
“I have tried heat and cold for my bursitis, but I am still in pain?”, you say. Or maybe you need relief to just get through the work day. This is exactly why we created Workvie. Work – vie (life in French), is for hardworking people like you that may still be working or wanting to get back to work, but your bursitis pain may be getting in the way. Let’s face, carrying around ice and heat packs is not very convenient. You may want to try a numbing and anti-inflammatory cream like Workvie® Work Pain Relief System. You can use the cream during your work breaks to get relief throughout the day when you can’t apply heat or cold compresses. It has an amazing scent that won’t embarrass because nobody wants to smell like grandma.
Hi, I’m Annabel, corporate wellness specialist, founder of Workvie, and I work without pain despite having 2 herniated discs. Workvie is a product brand dedicated to helping people that work with pain. We are a small business with a big heart for those in pain.
If your bursitis pain persists for more than two weeks, seek your health care provider as soon as possible.
This article is not intended to replace the advice of a medical doctor. Please consult with your primary physician.