Reminding myself to use my heating pad for muscle pain

Using heat for 15 minutes a day is now part of this columnist's self-care routine

Karen Del Vecchio avatar

by Karen Del Vecchio |

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Back during that crazy cold snap in December, I remembered how amazing heating pads can be.

Where I live, houses aren’t built with subzero wind chills in mind. So let’s just say that it got rather nippy inside when the wind chill outdoors hit somewhere around -7 F. I learned a long time ago that being cold is not a good mix with Ehlers-Danlos syndrome (EDS). My muscles already have a tendency to get tight without help!

My back is a hot mess of scar tissue from so many years playing hardcore sports before my diagnosis. My massage therapist theorizes that repeated dives to the ground as a soccer goalie for many years led to the buildup of scar tissue along my spine as my body tried to stabilize itself. As a result, my back is often quite stiff, especially early in the morning. After just a few days of making it a point to use my heating pad, I realized that I was waking up a lot less stiff than usual.

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Therapeutic heat has always been my friend. If I’m injured, after initially using ice, I always use heat. I realize that’s not a good plan for most people, but for me, ice almost always makes things worse by tightening all of the muscles around the injury. As a result, heat is my go-to.

With winter’s cold weather (I’m listening to sleet hit the windows as I write this) on top of long, busy days, I often end up going straight to bed when my day winds down. Thanks to chronic fatigue from EDS, I find that when I’m already tired, if I sit down on the couch, I’ll just fall asleep and will have to move from my couch to the bed. I might as well start in the place that will let me sleep through the night.

But it also means that sometimes I’ll skip something that can really help with my pain levels. As silly as it sounds, sometimes I’ll forget just how beneficial heat can be for me. It often falls by the wayside when I’m extra busy and tired, but I’ve been reminded of just how much it can help me.

If I’m feeling achy in the evenings, I now try to make a point to use heat, even if it’s just for 10 or 15 minutes. In my experience, it’s important to find what helps. That’s why I now try to make heat a part of my self-care routine.

Note: Ehlers-Danlos News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Ehlers-Danlos News or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to Ehlers-Danlos.


Mark Errett avatar

Mark Errett

I’m male, 69 years old and have suspected hEDS (can’t get tested where I live). Also Fibromyalgia, Chronic Fatigue and POTS. I use a heated mattress pad which cost under $100 and is perfect for quickly applying heat while resting or sleeping. It is adjustable for temperature and duration and I highly recommend it to others with similar issues.

Kimmy johnson avatar

Kimmy johnson

I have vEDS POTS fibromyalgia’s gastro etc I find extra heat effects my breathing due to poor lung function as my body cannot regulate my core temperature. Any other ideas ?.

Babett e Brown avatar

Babett e Brown

So true. I have h EDS and find good relief with heat. I have microwavable buckwheat hull pillows/wraps that have enough weight to help strained neck and shoulders and a longer one to put behind my lower back. I only find ice effective for brand new injuries, then heat afterwards. Heat always feels wonderful and relaxing.


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