Arthritis, especially osteoarthritis, involves inflammation of the joints. It is very common in the fingers and hands. Arthritis can cause the joints to wear down and even become deformed. It can be very painful and keep you from daily chores. The American Society of Surgery of the Hands suggests paraffin baths as a mode of treatment that is helpful in easing the pain of arthritis.
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Paraffin baths and wax are available in most drug and department stores. You can also purchase them in medical supply stores on and offline. A crockpot—that you are not using for food because the wax may be difficult to get off once it’s melted—can also be used to heat up the wax. If you do use a crockpot instead of paraffin bath equipment, purchase a meat or candy thermometer so you can monitor the temperature.
Place the wax in the bath or crockpot. If you are not using a bath with automatic temperature, heat the wax to 125 degrees, according to Arthritis Insight. Adding some mineral oil to the wax once it has melted will make it a bit thinner and allow it to last a little longer. Hold your hand straight above the bath, dip it in and raise it. Repeat this procedure 5 to 10 times, depending on the thickness you are comfortable with. Leave the wax on for approximately 20 minutes, and then peel it off.
If you add mineral oil to the wax to make it thinner, you will need to dip more times. Once you are done dipping, putting your hand in a plastic bag and then wrapping it with a cotton towel or oven mitt will retain the heat longer. Experiment with how long to keep on the wax based on how it feels.
The paraffin bath equipment that is readily available in local stores is usually just big enough to put your hand in. If you would like to use paraffin therapy for your wrist, feet or ankles, larger models are available. Keep in mind that it takes hours for wax to melt. The larger the bath, the longer it will take for the wax to liquefy. Check the packaging for a more exact time frame so the bath is ready when you are.
Be sure that the temperature is right before dipping any body parts into paraffin wax because it can cause burns. Do not use this therapy if you have any open wounds. Watch that the wax does not splatter out of the bath. The sides of the unit can become hot, and overheated wax can start fire, so do not leave it unattended.