Paraffin Wax for Arthritis
Paraffin Wax for Arthritis
You can use paraffin wax (may be called either paraffin or
wax) to apply moist heat to your hands or feet to ease the pain and stiffness
of osteoarthritis. Paraffin especially helps to reduce pain and loosen up
your hand and finger joints before exercise.
You should talk with
your doctor before trying paraffin at home. And it’s a good idea to have a
physical therapist show you how to do it before you try it yourself.
You will need:
- 4 lb (1.8 kg) of paraffin wax. Paraffin is available in most places
where canning supplies are sold.
- 1 cup of mineral oil. You may be
able to find some mineral oil that has a pleasant scent such as
- Equipment for melting the wax. You can use a paraffin
bath, available from a medical supply store, or a Crockpot or double boiler. If
you use a Crockpot, a small one works fine for your hands. You’ll need a large
one if you want to do your feet.
- A candy thermometer (if you’re
using a Crockpot or double boiler). If you get a paraffin bath from a medical
supply store, it should have a thermometer.
- Plastic wrap or plastic
- Terry cloth towel.
- Rubber bands or tape.
- Melt the wax (use low heat if you use a double
boiler). Stir often to speed up the melting.
- Stir in the mineral
- Turn off the heat, and allow the wax to cool until it has a
thin film on the top. This will mean it is getting cool enough to put your hand
or foot in.
- Use the thermometer to check the temperature of the
wax. It should read about
125Â°F (51.7Â°C) when you begin
- Before you begin, use warm, soapy water to wash the
hand or foot you are going to treat. This will keep the paraffin clean so you
can use it again for future treatments. Dry your hand or foot completely.
- Relax your hand or foot, and dip it into the paraffin, being very
careful not to touch the sides or bottom of the pot. Allow the wax to come to
just above the wrist or ankle. If you are unsteady, it helps to have another
person guide your hand or foot in and out of the paraffin.
your hand or foot out, but hold it over the paraffin. Allow it to dry a few
seconds until it stops dripping.
- Repeat this process 10 to 12
times. Each time you dip in, stop just below the
previous line of wax on your skin. This will keep warm wax from getting in
under the wax that is already on your skin and will prevent
- Wrap your hand or foot in plastic wrap or slide it into a
- Next, wrap a towel around your hand or foot and hold
it in place with rubber bands or tape.
- Leave the paraffin on for 20
minutes. Then unwrap your hand or foot and slide the paraffin from your hand or
foot back into the pot. The wax can be melted and used again.
the paraffin, and save it for next time.
- Do not use paraffin if you have poor blood
- Do not use paraffin if you have lost feeling in your
hand or foot, such as from diabetes (diabetic neuropathy).
- Wait until you are fully healed if you have a
rash or any open sores on the hand or foot you want to treat with
- Make sure the wax temperature is no more than
125Â°F (51.7Â°C) when you start
- Each time you dip your hand or foot into the
paraffin, dip a little less far than the time before. That will keep warm wax
from getting in under the wax that is already on your skin, which will prevent
- Paraffin can catch fire if it’s heated too much. Follow the
instructions above or the advice of your doctor.
Primary Medical Reviewer Anne C. Poinier, MD – Internal Medicine
Martin J. Gabica, MD – Family Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer Joan Rigg, PT, OCS – Physical Therapy
Current as ofOctober 10, 2017