How to use paraffin heat therapy to relieve arthritis pain

by Dr. Chi
May 30, 2018

Also known as paraffin wax therapy, paraffin heat therapy isn’t a new practice. You might be familiar with it if you are a regular visitor as the spas or nail salons. For cosmetic purposes, the therapy is used as a luxurious addition to pedicure or manicure. However, in healthcare, the treatment is used to help relieve pain that’s usually associated with arthritis as well as other rheumatic conditions.

Joints affected by arthritis

So, how does Paraffin Heat Therapy work?

Let’s take a step back and learn something about heat therapy in relation to arthritis. People suffering from different kinds of arthritis usually experience a lot of pain during the cold season. Some are even unable to button their shirts or tie their shoes when it’s cold.

If the affected joints are subjected to warmth, they improve, and the hands can work better, and the feet feel much relaxed. Knowing this, most physical therapists and practitioners recommend any source of warmth, including socks, ultrasound treatment, hot packs, gloves, and heat therapies such as Thermophore deep heat therapy and paraffin heat therapy.

So what is it with heat? Generally, when heat is applied on an inflamed joint, the high temperatures dilate the blood vessels, increasing room for more blood and better circulation. This means that the affected area will have more nutrients and oxygen brought in, and all the waste and toxins will be taken away more efficiently. This starts the healing process, decreasing inflammation and ultimately relieving pain.

When it comes to paraffin heat therapy, the wax used has high heat capacity and can retain the heat longer. As the wax goes through the phase change, the heat is transferred right to the core of the area affected. The heat is not lost though. As the wax melts, it turns to liquid, therefore retaining much of heat. If you dip your feet or a hand into the paraffin, the area around solidifies, while the paraffin beneath open the pores in your skin, increasing blood circulation. Brilliant, right?

Using Paraffin Heat Therapy at Home

Making paraffin wax at home is pretty straightforward, but you might want to consult your doctor first before you go ahead and try it. You will need:

About 4lbs of paraffin wax
A cup of mineral oil
Paraffin bath to melt the wax. You can use a small crockpot for hands and a bigger one for feet.
A candy thermometer. A paraffin bath usually comes with one.
Plastic bags or wraps
Terry cloth towel
Rubber tape or bands


Start by melting the wax, using much lower heat if you decide to go with a boiler. Keep stirring to help speed up the wax melting.
Put in the mineral oil and keep stirring.

Now turn off the heat and let the wax to cool. If a thin film forms at the top then it means it’s time for you to dip your foot or hand in the wax. You can use the thermometer to check the readings, ensuring it’s around 125F.  Wash your hands/feet with warm, soapy water, concentrating on the parts you intend to treat. It helps keep the paraffin wax clean should you need to use it soon.

Relax your hands/feet and dip them inside. Don’t touch either the bottom or the sides of the pot. Let the wax come a little above the ankle or the wrist.

Lift your foot/hand out to allow drying for a few seconds until the dripping stops.

Repeat the process around 10 – 12 times, and then wrap the areas in a plastic wrap before using a towel to cover them. Hold the cloth in place using tape or rubber bands.

Let the paraffin remain there for about 20 minutes and then unwrap and slide it back to the pot.

Save the paraffin as it can be melted and used again in future.

That’s it! Using paraffin heat therapy to treat pain associated with arthritis or other rheumatic conditions doesn’t have to be difficult. If you combine this practice with medication, you will easily beat the pain, especially during the cold season.



The Service offers health, fitness and nutritional information and is designed for educational purposes only. You should not rely on this information as a substitute for, nor does it replace, professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you have any concerns or questions about your health, you should always consult with a physician or other health-care professional.

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