Wax bath therapy

November 20, 2009 at 7:52 pm | Posted in Me, rheumatoid arthritis (RA) | 10 Comments
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I’m slightly confused because my lovely physio has suggested wax bath therapy for my hands … and referred me to an occupational therapist for it. My confusion arises from the fact that I would have thought that wax bath therapy was a physio sort of thing to do and definitely not an OT thing! I wonder if the OT will say the same when I see her? I wonder how long it will take to see her, given that it took seven months to get a physio appointment.

Anyway, if anyone has ever used a wax bath could they let me know; I’d be really interested to know if it helped at all. I did find a research paper that said it could be helpful in RA if combined with exercises but not on its own – well my hands certainly get plenty of exercise with all the typing and craft stuff, and I do some simple range of motion type exercises in the mornings too, so perhaps the wax thing will do some good.



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  1. I have a paraffin wax therapy machine at home, and I love it…just the other night I double-dipped: once before my evening class, and once after.

    I’ve been told that as long as my hands are not too inflamed, it is okay to use wax therapy. I usually dip, leave the wax on for about ten minutes, apply a pain-relief lotion, and then cover back up with my thermoskin arthritis gloves.

    In the U.S. at least there are two commercial models. The most common is by Homedics (I think), but I got another model by Revlon. My model allows for the wax to melt in about an hour, compared to the many hours required to melt in the other model.

    As an added plus, I also dip my feet on occasion. The heat is wonderful, especially when the small joints are hurting.

    Good luck, I’d love to hear how it works for you!

  2. Hi Polly! Wren here, again!

    Yes, I have used a paraffin (wax) bath for my achy hands. The first time was while I was getting info from an OT when I was living in Germany. I know the idea sounds strange, but oh, my, does that deep, deep heat feel good on sore, achy hands. And it loosens them up, so doing hand exercises is a little easier and less painful.

    Today I have my own paraffin bath at home. It’s made by Homemedics, but I’m sure there are other companies that make these for home use. I do use it rather frequently. It doesn’t make the pain go away, but the warm, almost HOT paraffin is incredibly soothing. Another plus? Makes your skin very, very soft.

    Good luck with this! I hope you enjoy the experience.

  3. I have a paraffin bath. It feels wonderful. I dip my hands, feet, and elbows.

    There are some very expensive commercial-grade baths on the market, but I got one for $20? at WalMart. The wax melts much faster if it’s broken into chunks, fwiw.

  4. Hello there, Just found your blog, am enjoying reading it – thanks !
    I used a paraffin bath for my hands when I went to an OT just after my RA diagnosis. At first it felt very odd sticking my hands into hot wax but it did feel really good. Once the wax ‘glove’ was on I had to wrap my hands in clingfilm and then a towel. Then I would do some ‘make a fist’ type exercises until the wax cooled. It seemed to help a bit, and as Wren says, it does make your skin very soft !
    I got one to use at home once I finished the OT – I don’t use it very often but it’s nice to be able to when I feel like it. I figure you could use it for feet as well but I haven’t quite worked out the logistics of that yet … !

  5. I haven’t done it in a while, but I used to get parrafin wax baths from my occupational therapist, too. I loved them!

    Now you’ve reminded me how nice they felt. Maybe I’ll look for one I can use at home.

  6. I haven’t tried it but reading everyone’s posts here, it sounds wonderful. Please post about your experiences. I am very interested.

  7. Thanks so much everyone – I’m really looking forward to it now! Here’s hoping I don’t have to wait too long. Will certainly let you all know when it happens!

    Still baffled as to the OT aspect of it, but it’s obviously an international thing that it’s OT and not physio based. I’d love to know WHY! It seems such an obviously physio-related thing, and not a particularly typical OT thing (in my limited experience, anyway).

  8. I just plugged in my machine (my hands are killing my today). I’ll do an extra wax dip in honor of all of you!

  9. Just seen this, have had a number of treatments of this kind in the past. The wax does help whilst your hands are all dipped and wrapped up, but i never found it lasted too long. Did purchase a wax bath MANY years ago, but never used it, never seem to have time. One thing it is very good for is the condition of your skin, it makes them really soft. Would certainly recommend you give it a try. My OT def referred me years ago, then i had to wait many weeks for the appointment.

  10. Hi Cath – glad you found the comments section. ;o)

    Well, even temporary relief would be nice, but I’m hoping for something a bit more lasting! Not that things are THAT bad at the moment … until it rains! Very painful this afternoon just before a heavy shower, but OK again now.

    I’m anticipating having to wait weeks, but we shall see …

    Hope you’re keeping well.

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