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Can Sauna Help With Arthritis?

A Finnish-dry sauna therapy can be used to assist people living with a range of degenerative diseases, including rheumatoid arthritis, which can cause many side effects, including pain, stiffness, fatigue, and joint destruction.

In 2009, a study into the effects of sauna in patients with rheumatoid arthritis and ankylosing spondylitis was published. The authors investigated the impact of twice weekly 30-minute sessions over four weeks.

The researchers found that:

  • Pain and stiffness significantly decreased during and after therapy
  • Mood, physical comfort, and symptoms improved
  • Participants said they “felt comfortable during and after the sauna session”
  • After treatment, 59% felt comfortable and many felt even very comfortable

That’s a far cry from the daily discomfort that readily accompanies this illness!

There were no markers of disease progression; an important indication that sauna sessions is safe in people with rheumatoid arthritis (RA). And, unlike many remedies, the treatment was well tolerated.

How does sauna work?

With such profound potential benefits, it’s important to look at this therapy deeper. How do saunas work? And why is this important in rheumatoid arthritis or, for that matter, any cause of chronic pain?

There are five important factors:

1. Cell Health, Down Regulation of Inflammatory Markers, Muscle Recovery and Immunity

In RA, whether by the condition itself or the pharmaceutical agents used in its care, cells, muscles, and the immune system can be damaged. Sauna heath has been shown to aid in improving cellular health, aiding muscle recovery, and boosting immunity.

2. Detoxification

The incredible body has an inbuilt detoxification system but in our modern-day toxic world and through illness it can become overwhelmed. Support is needed. Far saunas aid detoxification by heating the body safely and directly, which gently elevates core temperature.

“Detoxification is important because it strengthens the body’s immune system and helps the body’s biochemical processes function efficiently so that we are better able to digest the nutrients in our foods. Detoxification has also been shown to be helpful with colitis, chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia, auto-immune disease, immune deficiency states, autism, ADD and ADHD.” – Dr. Rachel West

3. Improved Circulation

By heating muscles in the sauna, blood flow is increased at a similar rate to that seen during exercise. Because being physically active is troublesome when you are stiff, swollen and sore, the benefits are obvious. It’s like a seated, comfortable workout without the exertion.

Research has also shown that sauna boosts peripheral circulation, reduces inflammation, decreases pain, and speeds healing. This is exactly what tired and tender joints and muscles need.

4. Pain Relief

Ah, the relief! The (maybe surprising) significant pain relief that many people experience from sauna therapy is utter bliss. Sauna heath penetrates tissues, joints, and muscles to relieve acute and chronic ails. From aches to muscle discomfort, joint pain to spasms, this therapy can be a life changer.

5. Relaxation

It’s this therapeutic warmth that promotes relaxation and enhances slumber.


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