Guess what: hot water for PAD relief could be the solution you’re searching for! After all, peripheral arterial disease (PAD) is a condition that affects blood flow to your arms and legs. It can be painful, causing cramps and other discomfort, especially when you walk. But that’s not all. Studies reveal that PAD patients also have a higher risk for lung cancer. So addressing symptoms and managing your disease could actually save your life.
As Houston area vein specialists, we often recommend light exercise to help people manage PAD pain. And now, a study published in the AJP Heart and Circulatory Physiology suggests that hot water therapy may be equally effective. Of course, when we’re looking for tools to manage PAD pain, more is always better. Which is why this could be great news for PAD sufferers. Especially if you’re not yet able to exercise!
What Causes PAD?
To understand why hot water therapy helps PAD, we have to explore why you get this disease. PAD sets in when fatty buildup accumulates in your arteries. In turn, that reduces blood flow to your limbs. Then, because of reduced blood flow, you experience muscle pain while walking. (We call this symptom claudication.)
Many PAD patients are told to manage their pain with supervised exercise. But there’s a catch: the PAD pains often make exercise too painful. That’s why this research out of New Zealand is so exciting: scientists discovered that ongoing heat therapy will improve cardiovascular health in PAD patients. Plus, it manages muscle pain and makes exercise a more likely possibility!
For their study, researchers followed two groups of adults with mild-to-moderate PAD pain. One group attended exercise sessions twice a week, during which they walked for up to 30 minutes on an indoor course and performed up to 60 minutes of circuit exercises. The other group engaged in three to five spa baths a week, submerging up to their shoulders in 102-degree water for 20 to 30 minutes. Before and after each session, researchers charted the participants’ walking ability, blood pressure, heart rate, blood volume, oxygen levels in muscle tissues, peripheral artery blood flow and function, and their overall quality of life.
What they found was exciting: both groups experienced improvements in their walking ability and blood pressure levels. In fact, the results for both groups were basically the same! In presenting their findings, the research team wrote: “Contrary to our hypothesis, there was no difference evident between the effects observed in heat therapy via spa bathing and a supervised exercise program. These findings indicate that heat therapy may be a useful alternative form of cardiovascular conditioning for individuals with PAD.”
Treating PAD in Houston
Now, exercise and hot water simply offer PAD relief. But neither option will reverse the arterial hardening that causes your PAD symptoms. Instead, you’ll need to seek official PAD treatment for long term relief.
In the past, your treatment options would have meant a long hospital stay and painful recovery. Today, we can offer treatment options such as angioplasty, stenting and atherectomy. All of these options are minimally invasive, so you can avoid open surgery. In fact, in many cases, you can go home from the hospital on the same day as your procedure.
Ready to find relief from PAD pain and a lasting solution to your symptoms? Contact our office to request an immediate appointment. From assessing your risk to diagnosing PAD and treating symptoms and your underlying disease, our Houston area specialists are here to do it all!