How to use a hot Water Bottle for pain management

As a kid, I would always see my mother using her hot water bottle, a lot! A migraineur since she was little, she would rely on a hot water bottle to ease her pain. When we moved to a much colder part of the country, she no longer had the sun’s intense rays to offer her relief. But she could replicate the sunny environment in any darkened room thanks to her hot water bottle.

These old timey red rubber vessels were used so much that they became a fixture in our house. They even traveled with us wherever we went. When I became a little older and joined the baseball team, I quickly began realizing the benefits of hot water bottles. I would use them for relief after long practice sessions and even when I was too stressed out to eat.

Now, I have about 7 hot water bottles in my possession that I have held on to over the years. I use them for all sorts of things; belly aches, muscle cramps, pain from tennis elbows, to combat the side effects of certain medicines- you name it, I can probably use a hot water bottle for it.

Over the years, I’ve discovered that a hot water bottle comes in handy in palliating less specific pains and aches; you know the ones that you can never really figure out why you have them or where they are coming from. I have a hot water bottle for everything; heartbreak, irregular work-life balance, self-doubt and even hangovers.

“According to Kate Huber, chief editor at NJGamblingFun, ‘’as an adult, I assumed everyone knew what these magical bottles could do. However, I quickly discovered that not everyone stocked these marvels in their home, which is quite honestly a travesty’’. Hot water bottles have been used in our societies for years but it was not until the 184os, when vulcanized rubber was discovered, that hot water bottles became a reality’.

Before then, individuals would do all sorts of things to get relief including warming bricks and stones to replicate the effects of a hot water bottle. By the 1900s, hot water bottles had become so ubiquitous that every hospital would recommend them to patients across many parts of Europe and North America.

Like a hot cup of cocoa during a cold winter night, hot water bottles offer the kind of run of the mill comfort that is easy to overlook. But how exactly do hot water bottles work? Here is a look at how hot water bottles are used for pain management:

How water bottles work

Hot water bottles are containers that are typically made out of rubber or a similar material. This rubber container is usually filled with hot water before being sealed by a stopper. Essentially, hot water bottles operate in the same way as heating pads, only that they come with the added advantage of not needing a power source to operate.

Hot water bottles have been an age old remedy that is utilized in many households to sort out all kinds of discomfort from muscle pain to menstrual cramps. Hot water bottles provide individuals with deep and penetrating heat that not only relives pain but also aids and enhances the recovery process.

By placing a hot water bottle to any painful areas such as joints and muscles, the heat in the bottle stimulates your sensory receptors to block the broadcast of pain signals to the brain, which results in instant and effective relief from pain. Hot water bottles also:

  • Increase tissue elasticity, which goes a long way in reducing any muscle tension that you may have. In turn, your muscles relax so that knots can stop being painful.
  • Has sedative properties that sooth any irritated nerve endings that are causing pain.
  • Help to increase blood flow to the painful area so that more nutrients can travel to the injured area. The heat from the bottle also helps by flushing out any injured debris. This is what allows you to heal quickly.
  • Hot water bottles do not only offer comfort when in pain, but they also have a placebo effect. They neutralize pain at a molecular level, just like pharmaceutical painkillers would.

How to use hot water bottles for pain management:

For aches during pregnancy

Pregnant women endure a lot of discomfort during the 9 months of pregnancy. While some pains are mild, sometimes it can get out of control forcing one to stop all activities until the pain is gone. Pains that may be felt in the stomach or pelvis can be managed easily using a hot water bottle.

Neck pain

Neck pain from sitting in front of a computer for too long or sleeping in a strange position can be sorted out easily with a hot water bottle. Make sure you apply some cold first, in the form of an ice pack, to reduce the buildup of lactic acid. Allow the muscles to relax and then use your hot water bottle to improve blood circulation.

Back pain

Back pain can be managed effectively by alternating between hot and cold water compresses. Place a hot water bottle on the affected area to help soothe any pain you may be experiencing. After some time, replace the bottle with a bag of frozen peas and wait for reprieve.

Hot water bottles for muscle cramps

After intense activities such as training or working out, you are bound to feel cramps and muscle soreness. Applying heat from a hot water bottle to hurting muscles can give you the respite that you need to carry out your day to day activities. If you are still feeling pain after using the hot water bottle, try taking a hot and relaxing bath to offer your whole body relief.

Stomach pain and period cramps

Hot water bottles are used commonly for relief from stomach pan and pain from period cramps. To use a hot water bottle for this purpose, simply fill it up with enough water, place it on your abdominal area, lie down somewhere relaxing, and wait for the pain relief to kick in.

Final thoughts

A dowdy, old school cure that still has its benefits and uses today, hot water bottles are fixtures in many contemporary homes. This device, with its kitschy charm, can be found in just about every home and it is easy to see why. Hot water bottles may not be the most fashionable thing that you will ever have in your closet, but the comfort they offer helps to make life a lot more tolerable.