Heat helps improve circulation and relaxes muscles. It also alleviates stiffness in your tendons and ligaments and helps to control pain.

Some people experience more relief with hot treatments than others. Also, you'll probably find that some therapies improve your symptoms more than others. Here are a few you can try:

Heat Wraps

One of the most convenient and budget-friendly ways to treat osteoarthritis pain is with a low-level heat wrap. Short-term (15 to 20 minutes) therapy with heat packs have proven less effective than other heat treatments such as mud baths and infrared sauna therapy.

However, the result of a study of 110 patients with arthritis in the knee was presented by the American Pain Society in 2005. It indicated that low-level heat treatment for up to eight hours with a knee wrap has significant benefits. The patients had significantly less pain and greater knee flexibility compared to treatment with a placebo or drugs such as acetaminophen and ibuprofen.

Paraffin Wax Bath

For many arthritis sufferers this treatment provides temporary relief from pain and stiffness. It can be used on hands, elbows or feet affected by arthritis. However, studies on paraffin wax baths have been mixed. In a study reported on PubMed patients with rheumatoid arthritis in their hands were given different treatments including wax baths only, exercise only, and wax and exercise together.

The group that did the wax bath treatment followed by hand exercises had significant improvement in range of motion (ROM) and grip function. However, wax baths alone had no significant effect.

Infrared Sauna Therapy

A far-infrared sauna is a sauna that uses infrared lamps. The heat generated penetrates below the skin to rev up circulation, treat damaged tissue and remove toxins. Research published in the Journal of Clinical Rheumatology showed that it can reduce pain, stiffness and inflammation caused by rheumatoid arthritis. The study showed that this therapy has short-term benefits to arthritis patients, with no reported side effects.

Hot Stone Massage

During a hot stone massage a therapist uses Swedish massage techniques and smooth water-heated basalt lava stones on your body. After stroking your body with the stones, they are placed along your spine or on key energy points.

As each stone cools it's replaced with another hot stone. The heated stones transfer heat throughout your body and relax tight muscles. They also improve your circulation and induce a relaxed, meditative state.

Occasionally cool marble stones are combined with the hot stones, reduce inflammation. You may not be able to do this therapy if you have burns, skin cancer or heart problem. Speak to your therapist first to determine your risk. If the stones are too hot, let your therapist know.