What’s better for knee arthritis – heat or cold? Some patients use heat to treat their knee arthritis and some love ice. Heat may help increase blood flow, which could theoretically help improve arthritis pain. Cold can reduce swelling, which is also a component of knee arthritis. However, do we really know based on research which one is better? A recent study sought to answer that question. The findings were surprising, as they demonstrated that men and women differ in their response to these common treatments, with women responding better to both heat and cold compared to men. They study tried heat or cold and then crossed over the groups into the other modality. This means that one group of patients tried a hot pack for a week and then turned in the hot pack and then tried a cold pack. While both men and women seemed to benefit from the heat or cold therapy for knee arthritis, women were more likely to report more significant improvement from these therapies. Why? The researchers weren’t sure why men didn’t respond as well from either hot or cold therapy. The upshot? Thinking of buying a heating pad or cold pack for that loved one with knee arthritis? Your loved one might like the gift a lot more if they’re female!
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