Is a Hot Tub Good for Rheumatoid Arthritis?

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a painful condition that affects the joints - along with other areas of the body. Hot tubs combine heat and hydrotherapy to alleviate arthritis stiffness and pain -- but is a hot tub good for rheumatoid arthritis?

Many people use hot tubs to help them relax, and the tub's powerful jets can massage painful areas of the body. Often, doctors and physical therapists will recommend them to people suffering from chronic pain.

While people with RA can find relief from their symptoms with hot tub therapy, there are some health concerns to consider too.

Let's discuss the health benefits of hot tubs and how people suffering from RA symptoms can find relief. We'll also discuss when you should speak to your doctor about using hydrotherapy for your RA.

Health Benefits of Heat and Hydrotherapy for Rheumatoid Arthritis

People have been using heat and hydrotherapy to relieve their aches and pains for years – even though the hot tub might not have been the first device to provide such therapy. Hot tubs, today, are a convenient way to get these therapeutic effects.

With roughly 1.5 million Americans having RA and onset beginning as early as 30 (in women), people living with this condition want an easy and convenient way to relieve their symptoms.

Not only will you find relief by soaking in a hot tub, but you can take advantage of some key benefits to using heat and hydrotherapy for RA:

Better Pain Management

A hot tub’s combination of heat and hydrotherapy can relieve RA-related pain by improving blood flow, relaxing muscles, and soothing aching the joints. Doctors recommend regular 15 to 20 minute sessions

Increases Mobility  

A hot tub improves your mobility by increasing range of motion in your joints, improving stability, and promoting more physical activity overall. We recommend practicing range of motion exercises while in the hot tub, such as flexing your hands against the resistance of the water.    

Decreases Disease Activity

According to Harvard physicians, heat and hydrotherapy decrease RA-related disease activity. Combining aquatics with heat decreases inflammatory markers in the body. While doctors aren’t sure why this occurs, they all agree it is still an excellent course of treatment.  

Improves Quality of Life

Regular heat and hydrotherapy sessions in a hot tub can improve your quality of life. Along with reduced pain and increased mobility, hot tub therapy can:

  • Improve quality of sleep
  • Reduce anxiety and stress
  • Enhance well-being
  • Boosts mood

When to Talk to Your Doctor About Hot Tub Therapy

You should talk to your doctor before making any changes to your therapeutic regimen, and this includes regular sessions in a hot tub. While hydrotherapy has its benefits, there are instances where it may be contraindicated.

For example, people with certain skin conditions cannot soak in a hot tub. Likewise, those with compromised immune systems may need to avoid hot tubs for risk of exposure to pathogens such as:

  • Legionella
  • Norovirus
  • Cryptosporidium

If you have a respiratory or gastrointestinal (GI) condition, you may need to avoid hot tubs. Fewer sessions of shorter durations may be possible, depending on the condition. Talk to your rheumatologist and primary care doctor before beginning any alternative treatment.

A Holistic Approach to Rheumatoid Arthritis Treatment

Hot tubs are one form of heat and hydrotherapy you can use to relieve the symptoms of RA. It is effective in easing arthritis pain and stiffness. However, treatment for RA requires a holistic approach.

At Southwest Florida Rheumatology, we offer medical consultations and lifestyle coaching and educational services to help you understand your rheumatic condition.

Many of these conditions are lifelong. We can help you find ways to control the disease through lifestyle changes and relieve your symptoms.

Looking for relief from your rheumatoid arthritis symptoms?

Contact us today to schedule an appointment at one of our three locations: Riverview, Sun City, and Wesley Chapel.


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