June 1, 2003—For some 43 million Americans affected by arthritis, the approach of winter may signal an increase in joint pain and muscles aches. Studies indicate that those affected by arthritis are often sensitive to climactic shifts and changes in barometric pressure. As nights lengthen and temperatures fall, what can be done to help alleviate increased arthritis and joint pain?
To further explore the connection between arthritis discomfort and climate change, HotSpring® Spas, the world's number one selling brand of portable spas, recently sponsored a survey conducted by Wirthlin Worldwide.
Out of 1,000 Americans surveyed, almost half of the respondents (44 percent) experience some form of arthritis or joint pain including hand and knuckle pain, tennis elbow and bad knees. Of the 44 percent affected, more than two-thirds (71 percent) said that cold weather increases the severity of their arthritis pain and joint discomfort.
When survey participants were asked what methods in addition to medication best alleviate their joint pain, 37 percent said that soaking in a hot tub or a hot bath was the most effective method of treatment. Physical therapy, heating pads and massage followed hot water therapy as preferred treatments.
Americans are rapidly discovering the wide array of advantages offered by hot tub ownership and the significant therapeutic benefits of hydromassage the combination of warm water, buoyancy and the massaging action of powerful jets.
The soothing warmth and buoyancy of warm water make it a safe, ideal environment for relieving arthritis pain and stiffness. The buoyancy of the water reduces body weight by approximately 90 percent, relieving pressure on joints and muscles, creating the relaxing sensation of weightlessness. The massaging action of a spa, created by "energized" streams of warm water and air through powerful jet nozzles, relaxes tight muscles and stimulates the release of endorphins the body's natural pain killers.
The Arthritis Foundation, an organization supporting research to find the cure for and prevention of arthritis, recommends the following guidelines for warm water exercise:
• Be sure to consult your doctor before you begin any water exercise program.
• Exercise in warm water (such as a hot tub or bath) to encourage free movement, ease tension on joints and act as resistance to build muscle strength.
• Soak in a hot tub/spa for several minutes before starting an exercise routine to help muscles relax and increase range of motion.
• Check the thermometer to see that the temperature does not exceed 104°F.
• Begin by moving affected body parts slowly.
• Allow enough time after exercising to relax muscles again before getting out of the water.
Studies indicate that hot tubs are also beneficial in obtaining a better night's sleep. The rapid drop in core body temperature when leaving a hot tub or bath sends a signal to the body that bedtime is near. Immersion in hot water raises your body temperature and causes blood vessels to dilate, resulting in increased circulation and overall muscle relaxation.
Steve Hammock, president of HotSpring Spas, believes a spa is ideal for everyone, not just people affected by arthritis or sleep disorders. "Relaxing in the warm, soothing water of a hot tub is a great way to unwind after a long day and spend quality time with family."
According to the National Pool and Spa Institute, more than 300,000 American consumers will take the plunge and purchase a hot tub this year. With the aging of baby boomers, spa ownership has increased more than 30 percent over the last three years with approximately 3.4 million residential spas in place.