How to Use a Hot Water Bottle

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A hot water bottle is typically used to help alleviate the inflammatory process that may be occurring with a muscle or joint. Discover why a hot water bottle should not be heated to a temperature above 120 degrees with help from a pediatrician in this free video on muscle and joint inflammation.

Part of the Video Series: Medical Conditions & Treatments
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Video Transcript

Hi, I'm Dr. David Hill and today we're going to be talking about how to use a hot water bottle. Now, what would you use a hot water bottle for? Probably most often when you have an inflammatory process going on with a muscle or a joint. It seems especially with muscle strains or muscle discomfort or muscle spasm, that the application of heat, gentle heat to the area seems to relax the muscle, bring a little bit of blood flow in there, sort of help you get through that spasm and discomfort. And there are a variety of ways to do this, you can use an electric heating pad, you can microwave rags that's already wet, or easy enough, you can get one of these rubber bottles, fill it with hot water. Now one important thing is, how hot should the water be? You said hot water, do I boil it? Well, ideally you'd rather not see the water greater than about a hundred and twenty degrees. Direct contact with water over that temperature for even a short period of time, puts you at some risk of scalding. So when you're testing the water, kind of run your hand under it, but don't go for boiling. More is not better in this case, you're just looking for warmth. Another thing to consider is, how long that hot water bottle is going to be there? You want to sort of, if you're getting uncomfortable, move the thing, take it off, give it a little bit of rest. Again, this is a generally helpful thing to do, but this intervention is not the critical difference in any medical process. So don't hurt yourself, trying to make pain better. Now if you're using an electric heater instead of a hot water bottle, don't sleep with it, you don't want to start a fire, you don't want to have an inadvertent burn, wake up with a blister. And I'd probably advise that with a very hot, hot water bottle as well. The nice thing about hot water bottle is does cool off over time, so you're at less risk of burning yourself. One other caution with a hot water bottle, if heat is applied to the skin repeatedly in the same place over and over and over again, it can damage the skin. So you don't want to put a hot water bottle on the same place, day in and day out for months or years at a time. If something is hurting you that bad, probably you want o work with your doctor on another more permanent solution to the pain. Talking about how to use hot water bottle, I'm Dr David Hill.

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