The Great Debate-Part 1: Get Your Freeze On

One of the questions that has plagued me since long before my psoriatic arthritis diagnosis has been the simple question of hot or cold. Some experts and patients alike argue in favor of hot, citing its ability to relieve tight muscles and ease aching joints. While others defend the use of cold therapies to calm inflammation, reduce blood flow, and limit swelling.

No matter where you land on the great hot-cold debate, chances are you are destined to find relief. I’ve compiled a list of some of my favorite options to deliver your cold therapy of choice in a variety of ways.

Cold therapy-Get your freeze on

When it comes to cold therapy, you would think that they are all the same, right? Well, you would be wrong. The days of simple cubes from a freezer in a baggie are long gone. While this tried and true method is a good one, it isn’t your only option to freeze your pain away.

Frozen veggies

Yep, frozen peas aren’t just for eating anymore. These lovely, tiny, round balls make a great, affordable solution for ice therapy. The little nuggets of frozen goodness do a much better job following the curves and bends of aching joints than the larger, traditional cubes of ice. Coming in at about a dollar or less for a bag, these are sure to fit in almost any budget.

DIY reusable ice bag

If you think the traditional throw-away bag of ice is a bit wasteful, then you should try the DIY reusable variety. All you need is a couple double-zipper freezer bags, and a 3:1 ratio of water and rubbing alcohol depending on the size you choose. Put the zipper bags end to end to reduce the possibility of leaks, add your ingredients, and freeze. This is one of my favorite, easy to use, and affordable options for reusable ice therapy.

Commercially available cold packs

If the DIY route is not your thing, head online or to your local pharmacy. They have a variety of ice packs in many shapes and sizes. They even make braces with ice packs that you can slide in and out. Plus you get the extra added benefit of wearing a brace. I think these ideas are great if, like me, you tend to have a flare up in the same joint each time, like a knee, elbow, or wrist. While not as affordable as some other options, for me, these do a great job offering support and pain relief together.

Roll-on freeze therapy

Now you can grab your cold therapy in roll-on form. There are several manufacturers that make a variety of options for quality roll-on cold therapy. My favorite also contains CBD which is a natural anti-inflammatory agent. I find this especially helpful for the joints in my fingers, wrist, and aching feet.

Please! Keep this in mind

No matter which you choose, please be sure to follow basic safety procedures. Don’t leave ice therapies on longer than 15-20 minutes at a time. Never fall asleep with heating pads directly on your joints and always, always, always check with your rheumatologist for recommendations specific to your questions, concerns, or complications. In the great hot-cold debate, no matter which side you land on, I hope you find many pain-free days and restful nights.

Stay tuned for part two of the great debate, hot vs cold, where I will share all of my favorite options for pain relief using heat.

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