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Article: Is Sauna Good for Arthritis? Benefits & Stiffness Relief

Is Sauna Good for Arthritis? Benefits & Stiffness Relief

Is Sauna Good for Arthritis? Benefits & Stiffness Relief

Written by Chris Lang

Arthritis is a condition that causes pain and inflammation of the joints. Although there is currently no cure for it, it is treatable. Several common treatments are available to relieve the symptoms of arthritis, like medications, dietary plans, and physical therapy, but their effectiveness varies from person to person. In recent years, there has been a rising interest in alternative treatments for this condition, and using infrared sauna therapy has become increasingly popular.

This article will explore the potential benefits of using infrared sauna therapy to relieve symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis and to help manage the symptoms of the condition.

Understanding Arthritis

Arthritis is an umbrella term to describe severe joint disorders that are characterized by bouts of inflammation, pain, and swelling within joints. Arthritis affects people of all ages, and the condition can vary in terms of its causes, symptoms, and severity. Statistics suggest that as of 2021, 350 million people worldwide have some form of arthritis, which is around 4% of the global population.

Types of Arthritis

One of the most common types of arthritis is Osteoarthritis (OA), which is most prevalent in older demographics as joints experience sustained use. The illness causes the cartilage that protects joints to begin to break down, and sufferers soon develop stiffness, pain, and reduced flexibility in affected areas.

Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA), the subject of this article, is an autoimmune disorder where the immune system attacks the lining of membranes that surround joints. This leads to symptoms that include pain, inflammation, and eventual irreparable damage to the affected joints.

The approach to treating these two conditions varies from a pharmacological standpoint, but physical therapy methods can be similar. OA treatment focuses more on pain relief and treatment of inflammation, coupled with surgery, injections, and movement assistance devices. On the other hand, RA treatment is characterized by using immune suppressors to reduce inflammation.

Since inflammation is a common symptom of arthritis, methods to reduce it can overlap between diagnoses. This can involve dietary changes, physical therapy, and even introducing unconventional methods, including sauna therapy, to relieve symptoms and reduce inflammation.

Saunas and Arthritis

In recent years, infrared saunas in particular have been lauded for their potential as an additional treatment to relieve arthritis symptoms. While not considered a replacement for conventional treatments like medications or physical therapy, many people have adopted infrared sauna therapy as a supplemental approach to arthritis treatment.

The alleged benefits of infrared sauna therapy are still under study but some individuals have spoken out about how using this treatment has improved their quality of life.

What Are Infrared Saunas?

These saunas deploy infrared heaters to emit infrared light, which is absorbed by the surface of the skin. The effect is similar to how the body absorbs rays from the sun. The infrared version differs from traditional saunas by using radiation to heat the body rather than convection and conduction from heating the air. This heating method is believed to have benefits for sufferers of arthritis, but more research is needed in this area to confirm these claims.

How Infrared Saunas Work for Arthritis

Sauna usage in general may detoxify the body through perspiration, reduce inflammation and stiffness from heat treatment, and relax the body by lowering cortisol levels within the body. Additionally, as a result of using radiation to heat the body directly rather than the air, the  average temperature of an infrared sauna room are lower than its traditional counterparts.

The lower temperatures of an infrared sauna allow individuals to have longer sessions to maximize the benefits gained from sauna therapy. Additionally, the radiation emitted tends to penetrate and be absorbed deeper into the skin to provide relief faster than other types of saunas.

Benefits of Sauna for Arthritis

There are several potential benefits from using saunas to relieve arthritis symptoms.

Pain Relief

A recent study reported relief of joint pain and relaxation of muscles linked to regular sauna use. This is because of the increased release of endorphins which are mood enhancing hormones.

If you want to know, “Does sauna help sore muscles?” the answer is yes, with a slight caveat. While the effect is indirect, the heat helps with blood flow and alleviates some of the pain associated with soreness.

Better Range of Motion

The heat from saunas can also temporarily provide a wider range of motion and improve flexibility in joints.

Reduced Inflammation

By directly providing relief through heating affected areas, inflammation can be reduced in an individual’s joints by improving blood flow. A 2018 study suggests that introducing more oxygenated blood to affected areas helps clear inflammatory byproducts. Sauna use can increase oxygenated blood flow around the body.

Detoxification

Detoxing through sweating gives the body help to rid itself of toxins, this helps promote overall health and reduces strain on the immune system, allowing the body to focus on other issues.

Stress Reduction

Aside from being a relaxing experience in general through its pleasant heat, stress can be managed by lowering levels of the stress hormone cortisol through regular sauna sessions. High levels of stress can exacerbate symptoms of arthritis so managing stress is important to help treat the condition.

Using Saunas for Arthritis Relief

For those suffering from RA that are interested in using saunas, you should take practical considerations, and certain recommendations into account to ensure the safest and most beneficial experience possible. Here are some points to keep in mind.

Consult Your Healthcare Professional

If you have a pre-existing medical condition, severe mobility issues or damage to joints, a sauna could be unsuitable, or you may need specific accommodation. Additionally, you might experience adverse effects when combining sauna use with medication. Get in contact with a healthcare professional guidance on whether the sauna is safe for you.

Stay Hydrated

You will lose a lot of fluids through sweat during a sauna session. You must maintain a healthy fluid balance by drinking water before, during, and after each session to prevent dehydration, which if left unchecked, can exacerbate symptoms of arthritis.

Monitor Session Duration and Temperature

Ensure you begin your sauna therapy with shorter sessions at lower temperatures and gradually increase these as you acclimatize. Overheating or staying in the sauna too long can lead to issues detrimental to your health and can even make arthritis symptoms worse by increasing inflammation.

Choose the Right Sauna

There are several types of saunas, including Finnish dry sauna, wet saunas, and infrared saunas. For individuals with arthritis, it’s recommended to use an infrared sauna for its lower temperatures and direct radiant heat which allow for more beneficial and prolonged use.

Individual responses to sauna use can vary, and what works for one person might not work for another. This means that one person could feel great health benefits from using the sauna, but others might feel adverse and debilitating effects. Ensure you prioritize your safety and seek guidance from a healthcare professional to ensure you can align your arthritis treatment with sauna therapy.

Sauna Options for Arthritis

Saunas are available in both commercial and home settings. You usually find commercial saunas available in gyms, spas, and other wellness facilities. Public saunas tend to come in the traditional Finnish dry sauna, but also can be available in other forms.

For in home saunas, you can use any type of smaller sauna, such as Komowa personal saunas. With options from infrared to traditional dry saunas, you can relieve more than just sore muscles. In fact, you can use a dry or wet sauna for cold relief or other inflammatory conditions.

Choosing a Home Sauna

If you’re deciding on a sauna to buy for your home, you should research highly rated manufacturers that offer saunas that offer safety and quality.

Ensure you pick the right size of sauna to fit inside your home, the right heating method for your needs, as well as any additional features you might want for your future installation like Bluetooth connectivity.

Installation and Maintenance

There’s a lot of work which goes into the installation of a home sauna, so ensure you enlist the help of a professional to take care of the process to ensure performance and safety.

Once installed, you must make sure your sauna unit is regularly maintained, cleaned, and all its working components are functioning correctly.

Cost Considerations

The initial cost of buying and setting up a home sauna can be very high, depending on its size, type, and brand. However, infrared saunas tend to be more energy efficient so will have lower operating costs in the long run.

Clearlight Saunas

Clearlight Saunas is a brand that offers a range of high-quality infrared saunas for home use. They are known for their innovative designs and advanced heating technology. Clearlight saunas are designed to provide an efficient and comfortable sauna experience, and its infrared saunas are recommended for easing the symptoms of arthritis.

Expert Insights

Some experts in this field have provided their perspectives on the health benefits of saunas.

Brent Bauer, M.D., stated that infrared saunas are a great choice for people who are uncomfortable with the high temperatures of other saunas. In the same statement, Bauer purported that many studies agree sauna therapy can positively benefit those suffering from long-term illnesses such as high blood pressure, type-2 diabetes, and arthritis.

Another study on 34 rheumatoid arthritis and ankylosing spondylitis patients found that pain and stiffness were temporarily decreased when using sauna treatments. Additionally, all patients were able to tolerate the treatment, and no adverse effects were observed. However, it must be noted that all results were temporary and had no long-term effects. As such, long-term sauna therapy is only a relieving factor for arthritis and must be used alongside medication.

An evaluation on the effects of the sauna on rheumatoid arthritis by G. P. Matveĭkov and V. V. Marushchak found that sauna use produced a positive effect on the locomotor system and psychoemotional status, alleviating pain among 196 arthritis patients.

When making future decisions on sauna therapy, it’s important to consider professional opinions first. In addition to learning expert opinions, you should consider asking your GP or local healthcare professional for advice on how sauna therapy can help arthritis symptoms.

Closing the Door to Discomfort

From increasing blood circulation and reducing inflammation, to allowing stress relief and relieving pain, it's clear sauna therapy offers potential benefits for alleviating symptoms of arthritis. When used in moderation and supplemental to conventional treatment, infrared sauna therapy can be an alleviator of stress and pain from rheumatoid arthritis and similar conditions.

Managing your arthritis is a long and multifaceted journey. Some find solace in the embrace of a sauna, while others may find all the relief they need through conventional needs, lifestyle changes, or even a combination of all three. The key is to stay open to all your options, and most importantly, consult with your healthcare provider to help make a plan that works for you.

With the right support, you can once again take back control and take the steps necessary to lead a fulfilling life. This is a journey of discovery, adaptation, resilience, and the belief that there are always going to be better days ahead.

When you’re ready to try a home sauna for arthritis relief, browse through our best infrared saunas for sale to make your home into a personal spa center.

 

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