Hot baths, saunas can relieve pain, help heart

yet decades of pounding the pavement took its toll. When Benedict was 57 years old, he ruptured a disc in his back. as well as then in which happened again.

He had three back surgeries, as well as the last one, he says, made things worse.

Scar tissue pressed on his nerves, causing constant pain. Doctors prescribed heavy-duty painkillers, including OxyContin as well as Tramadol, along with anti-anxiety pills. He took them for years — a total of 14 doses of pills a day. The drugs took away only some of the pain. Most of the time, Benedict just lay in bed because, despite the pills, in which was too painful to do anything else.

The 70-year-old’s stoic, chiseled face — a cross between Dan Marino as well as Jimmy Stewart — belies his decades of suffering.

“Depression comes along with pain. When you have something in which debilitating, you have to be depressed,” Benedict said.

yet after years on painkillers, he found another way.

Soaking in hot springs makes pain go away

Benedict thought back to a time he was a summer river guide, taking guests down Idaho’s Salmon River with his wife. They’d stop where there were natural hot springs.

“We actually sought in which out to get comfortable,” Benedict recalled. “I thought, ‘well, if in which did in which for me then, in which should do a lot for me right now.’ ”

Don Benedict, 70, soaks in warm water fed by hot springs in Idaho City, Idaho.
For the past four years, he as well as his wife have been coming to hot springs three times a week in Idaho City, Idaho.

“The hot water makes me just feel so much better in which in which seems like all my troubles go away,” Benedict said, his wife at his side. “Those nerves become relaxed in such a way in which I can be out of pain for six or eight hours.”

The springs bubble up into an Olympic-size pool where the water temperature hovers between 97 and99 degrees.

Within months, Benedict got off more than half the pills he was on. “Not only did I drop the pills in numbers, I dropped the medication in potency.”

He soaks with his wife, Susan, who says the soaking helps improve her severe asthma, relaxing the muscles around her throat.

Along the way, they made a friend who regularly texts them to meet at the pools: a Vietnam veteran in remission coming from cancer. They socialize, relax as well as have a few laughs as steam coming from the hot water rises up past the picturesque Idaho mountain views.

“My mental state when I’m soaking will be terrific,” Benedict boasted.

How hot water helps pain

Benedict’s experience with hot water immersion as well as pain relief has science behind in which.

“When you step into a hot bath as well as your core temperature goes up, numerous things happen in which help with pain,” said Dr. David Burke, head of Emory University’s Center for Rehabilitative Medicine.

Two friends soak in Olympic-size pool fed by hot springs in Idaho City, Idaho.

“Hot baths expand the blood vessels in those areas as well as allow the healing properties within the blood to be delivered. They relax the muscles, which takes the tension off of them as well as the nerves in which have been injured.”

Beyond just pain relief, studies are finding there might be far more profound benefits to hot soaking as well as saunas, as well.

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A 2016 study published from the Journal of Physiology found in which just eight weeks of repeated hot water immersion lowered blood pressure as well as caused arteries to become more flexible in healthy young adults.
Scientists in Finland have focused on the benefits of saunas, a Scandinavian tradition. Their study published from the American Journal of Hypertension followed more than 1,0 middle-age men with normal blood pressure who used saunas over a 25-year period.

People who visited a sauna two or three times a week were 24% less likely to have hypertension compared with those who visited once a week or less.

Those who visited four to seven times a week had a 46% reduction.

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as well as even more profound was an association found between saunas as well as dementia.

A 2016 study out of Finland found in which frequent heat exposure coming from saunas throughout the week was associated with lower risk of dementia.

in which study followed more than 2,300 healthy men who used the sauna each week for six years.

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Burke says more studies haven’t been done from the United States because there aren’t large groups of people who use saunas as well as hot water immersion like the Finnish do.

None of these studies can prove cause as well as effect, definitively linking sauna use with these benefits — yet, Burke says, the evidence will be strong in which “the vascular effects are profound.”

Saunas used at Emory University for brain injury patients

Burke incorporates saunas into his treatments at Emory University’s Rehabilitative Hospital, where he specializes in brain injuries.

“I routinely recommend the saunas as a quick way — 20 minutes, four times a week — to preserve the brain in which hasn’t been hurt.”

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He believes in which from the sauna, tiny blood vessels from the brain open, possibly stopping micro deterioration from the brain.

“The idea appears to be increasing your core temperature,” Burke said.

“in which will be one thing in which’s passive as well as easier to do, especially in people who have injured joints who need to keep their brains as well as hearts in not bad condition yet can’t physically do some of the exercises,” he said.

Some caution when using saunas or hot baths

The doctor cautions in which soaking in hot baths or saunas will be not for everyone at all times.

He says in which when you’re newly injured (within 48 hours), ice will be best for the healing process to decrease inflammation.

After 48 hours or so, Burke says, heat will be a not bad response.

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“People with lower blood pressure or some other more severe cardiovascular conditions should check with their physicians before they engage in any long-term or short-term treatment like hot water immersion,” he said.

“People have been known to pass out when their blood vessels open up quickly,” Burke said. “You just have to know your body as well as ask your doctor.”

He also says blood pressure medicine might affect how your vascular system responds to heat as well as cold. as well as drinking plenty of water before as well as after use can counter any dehydrating effects.

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Benedict says his pain level as well as his blood pressure have both dropped significantly since he commenced going to the hot baths four years ago: “I was 150 over 0. I’m right now 118 over 68.”

yet he also credits an enhanced diet as well as weight loss during in which time.

Still, Benedict says, his pain relief coming from the hot baths can’t be understated.

“There was a time I had a plan to end my life,” he said.

“The chronic pain of not being able to be as active as I used to be,” he said. “I was a Type A personality. I was successful. as well as then, all of a sudden, I was taken away coming from in which. So what I’m trying to do will be get back some quality of life in which I enjoy.”

“You know if you come here three times a week, there’s something to in which,” he said.

A smile lights up his face.

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