Are Weighted Blankets Good for Arthritis?
I know. Been there. It hurts every night.
But there is hope. There is some experience that weighted blankets can help people with arthritis by providing deep pressure stimulation. Deep pressure stimulation is thought to calm the nervous system and reduce pain signals.
A small study published in 2016 found that participants who used weighted blankets had less pain and improved sleep quality.
My experience is that they work. Let’s see how.
Table of Contents
Are weighted blankets good for arthritis?
Weighted blankets may be a good option for those with arthritis, as research suggests that deep pressure can help to reduce osteoarthritis pain of the knee. Weighted blankets work by boosting mood-enhancing hormones like serotonin, oxytocin, and dopamine so they can help to reduce stress, which can amplify the perception of pain.
How does a weighted blanket help relieve arthritis pain?
Weighted blankets can offer a range of potential benefits to relieve arthritis pain, such as increased relaxation, improved sleep, and a lift in mood. Through Deep Touch Pressure (DTP) applied by the weighted blanket, the gentle pressure helps to relax the muscles, reduce stress and tension, and release serotonin to reduce anxiety and ease the pain and discomfort.
Studies have found that deep pressure during massage can help to relieve the osteoarthritic pain of the knee, and since weighted blankets employ DTP, they may help those with arthritis in a similar way.
People with rheumatoid arthritis often have trouble sleeping, but weighted blankets can help promote the onset and quality of sleep, consequently reducing arthritis pain.
Lastly, weighted blankets can also help boost mood-enhancing hormones like serotonin, oxytocin, and dopamine, providing a natural way to help lift spirits.
What are the cons of using a weighted blanket for arthritis?
While weighted blankets can provide comfort and help to reduce pain and stress associated with arthritis, there are some potential downsides to using them. Conventional weighted blankets can be too hot to sleep under, making them uncomfortable to use, and they are not always eco-friendly. It is important to know how to use them. Additionally, those with existing injuries or medical conditions such as fibromyalgia may be at a higher risk of aggravating those conditions due to the weight of the blanket.
What is arthritis?
Arthritis is a condition that affects the joints, causing pain, inflammation, and stiffness. It is the most common form of arthritis and is commonly referred to as “wear and tear” arthritis. Osteoarthritis is caused by joint damage, which can be due to joint injury, overuse, obesity, heredity, or age. It is the most prevalent condition among older people.
Symptoms can range from mild (Stage 1) to severe (Stage 4) pain. Other forms of arthritis include rheumatoid arthritis, which is characterized by joint pain that is usually a throbbing and aching pain, and is often worse in the mornings and after a period of inactivity.
Treatment for arthritis can include physical therapy, lifestyle modifications, medications, and in severe cases, surgery.
What are the benefits of using weighted blankets for arthritic pain?
The use of weighted blankets for arthritis can offer many potential benefits.
1. Weighted blankets can provide deep pressure stimulation, which can reduce stress and anxiety.
Weighted blankets provide deep pressure stimulation, which is a form of therapy where pressure is applied to certain areas of the body, such as muscles and joints, to reduce tension and improve circulation. This helps to reduce pain, as well as reduce stress and anxiety.
The pressure also stimulates the nerves, reducing pain reflexes caused by arthritic conditions. By improving circulation, it can help to reduce inflammation and swelling, which can reduce pain and stiffness. In addition, serotonin and dopamine, two “happy hormones,” are produced due to the deep pressure stimulation, which can help to improve mood and reduce anxiety. Cortisol, the stress hormone, is also decreased, further reducing symptoms of anxiety and helping the body to achieve a sense of calm.
2. They can be used to warm up and soothe the body
Weighted blankets have been found to help warm up and soothe the body through deep pressure touch therapy. This therapy applies pressure to certain areas of the body like muscles and joints, which helps to reduce tension and improve circulation, leading to reduced pain and improved mood.
Self-hugging is known to increase self-love and reduce stress and anxiety. Weighted blankets provide hug-like contact to help relax and relieve pain during sleep, so people can wake up refreshed and comfortable, as well as reduce stress associated with pain.
Weighted blankets can provide a compression-like pressure to help muscles recover more efficiently, and promote calmness to melt away stress.
3. They can improve sleep
Weighted blankets can improve sleep quality, which can help to reduce pain over time. Weighted blankets can help to increase mood-enhancing hormones, providing a natural way to relieve arthritis pain and inflammation and improve sleep.
4. They can be used in combination with other treatments for arthritis
A weighted blanket can be used in combination with other treatments for arthritis in order to improve the overall quality of life for those suffering from the condition.
Here is how to use a weighted blanket with other treatments for arthritis:
- Exercise: Regular exercise is an important part of treatment for arthritis as it can help strengthen muscles and improve general wellness. Recommended exercises for people with arthritis include walking, biking, swimming, and yoga.
- Weight Loss: Being overweight can put extra pressure on your joints and worsen the symptoms of osteoarthritis. Losing weight can help alleviate the pain and improve quality of life. A weighted blanket can be used during an exercise routine to increase the intensity of the workout and help you lose weight faster.
- Sleep: Lack of sleep can worsen the symptoms of arthritis and make it more difficult to get a good night’s rest. Sleeping with a weighted blanket can help ease the pain and provide a more restful sleep.
- Massage: Regular massage can help to decrease swelling and pain and improve joint mobility. Using a weighted blanket can act as an alternative to massage to provide the same benefits.
- Heat/Cold Therapy: Applying heat or cold to the affected area can reduce pain and inflammation. Weighted blankets can provide extra heat or coldness which can help to alleviate arthritis pain and reduce inflammation.
- weighted blanket can be used alongside other treatments for arthritis, such as medication and physical therapy.
- Supplements and magnesium oil can all be beneficial in reducing inflammation and joint pain associated with arthritis. In addition, a weighted blanket may provide comfort and help reduce stress and anxiety associated with arthritis, as well as help improve sleep quality.
How do you manage rheumatoid arthritis pain?
- Take a hot shower or bath before bed. This can help reduce pain and stiffness in your joints.
- Use heat therapy at night. Place a heating pad on the affected joint for 15 to 20 minutes before bed. You also can use more blankets layered up.
- Consider using pillows strategically. Place them strategically to reduce pressure on the affected joint.
- Exercise and stretch regularly. Exercise can help strengthen your muscles, improve your general wellness and ease stress.
- Avoid eating after 9 PM. Eating late at night can interfere with your sleep and make pain worse.
- Practice good sleep hygiene. This includes getting 7-9 hours of sleep each night and avoiding stimulants like caffeine or nicotine before bed. See how to fall asleep after drinking coffee.
- Take over-the-counter medications which can help reduce pain and inflammation.
- Consider taking biologic agents or targeted synthetic DMARDs. These can help slow joint damage.
- Talk to your doctor about other treatments such as probiotics or magnesium oil to help reverse the effects of rheumatoid arthritis.
How should you choose the right weight for a weighted blanket?
The most important factor to consider when purchasing a weighted blanket is the weight. Generally, it is recommended to choose a blanket that is 10 percent of your body weight. For example, if you weigh 150 pounds, you should get a 15-pound blanket. If you weigh closer to 200 pounds, choose a 20-pound blanket.
For adults, use medium-to-large weighted blankets ranging from 12 to 30 pounds. For a 30- to 70-pound child, a small weighted blanket should weigh from 5 to 8 pounds. Choose a blanket made from breathable materials, such as cotton and wool, to help with temperature regulation.
Finally, it is important to remember that any too heavy weighted blanket may even cause joint pain.
What is the best position to sleep with rheumatoid arthritis?
Most experts usually recommend sleeping on your back or side when dealing with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) pain, as this position helps to reduce pressure points and keep the spine properly aligned. This can help to alleviate the pain and stiffness associated with RA.
It is also important to choose a mattress and sheets that provide comfort and support in order to help you get a good night’s sleep. Memory foam mattresses, latex mattresses, hybrids, and airbeds can all provide the necessary cushioning and support for RA pain relief.
Furthermore, some people may find that warm bedding helps to reduce stiffness in the morning.
Do heated blankets help with arthritis?
Although there is currently no strict scientific research to support the use of weighted blankets specifically for arthritis, there is evidence that suggests that heated blankets can help to alleviate joint pain. Warmth and deep pressure provided by weighted blankets may also help to reduce pain associated with arthritis.
Therefore, while there is still more research needed to understand the effects of weighted blankets on arthritis, current evidence suggests that weighted blankets can provide a great complementary approach to managing arthritis pain for some people.
Do weighted blankets work for chronic pain?
Yes, weighted blankets may be a helpful strategy for managing chronic pain. According to a 2021 study from UC San Diego, adults with chronic pain experienced a reduction in their perceptions of pain when using a 15-pound weighted blanket compared to a 5-pound blanket.
The study also found that people with higher levels of anxiety experienced more relief from the heavier blanket. Additionally, weighted blankets have been found to help reduce tension, improve sleep, and reduce stress; all of which can help manage chronic pain. All of this evidence shows that weighted blankets may be an effective tool in managing neck pain, leg pain, and back pain.