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Chilli Pad and RA pain

I had previously solved the overwhelming issue of severe night sweats due to the anti-breast cancer medication Tamoxifen I'll be taking for 10 years, by using a "chili pad" at night. It worked so very well and has allowed me to stay off of yet another additional drug. It is basically a mattress pad with a machine that pumps water through it at whatever cooling temperature I choose. It has worked like a miracle for my night sweats.

Here's the problem...with my recent onset of RA, the chili pad has really increased my pain and achiness. So now I must weight getting sleep against more pain. And perhaps I'm waking just a much now with pain.

If I continue to try the chili pad to be able to sleep instead of waking continually from night sweats, is it just a matter of me hurting and aching a lot more, or is it actually causing more damage and inflammation to my joints?

I'm not sure what to do as I really need to get some sleep but I don't want to cause arthritis flares and increased disease activity.

Any experience or thoughts on this?

6 Replies

I have no experience of breast cancer or the treatment but I do have a problem with my body temperature at night and often have sweats and a lot of scalding pain at night in my peripheries. I end up either lying on top of my duvet or running a cool bath to calm my hands and feet down enough to allow me back to sleep. So I can at least sympathise.

I like the idea of a chili pad and wouldn't have thought it would cause RA to worsen because people often say that ice packs are needed to reduce inflammation in joints. Perhaps your RA is still poorly controlled and it has nothing to do with the chili pad? RA often worsens after a good night's rest anyway - morning stiffness is one of the diagnostic criteria so you might be better off telling your rheumy team so they can hopefully help you.

I do agree that sleeping well is a priority. I think poor sleep is probably more harmful to your body overall then stiffness and pain in your joints.

I should say that when my RA was still very poorly controlled about 3 years ago I found applying heat felt very comforting, but it actually made the flare up in the affected joint much worse. I could never bring myself to use ice packs because I have mild Raynauds. But it confirmed to me that the type of pack applied is definitely a factor in reducing local inflammation for many of us.


Pain doesn't necessarily equate to joint damage. You might have noticed that your rheumatologist is often less interested in pain than they are in swelling & stiffness.

Cold of any sort makes my pain much worse, but everyone's different. Maybe chat to your GP about pain relief for night time? You don't sound keen on more tablets, but you do need to sleep. Also, you mention your onset of RD is recent - maybe your DMARD treatment isn't working fully yet (it takes months) or perhaps the dosage needs looking at?

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Good Morning

I've never heard of the child pad, but am glad it has worked for you.

I have been told, and believe it to be true, that the best thermal treatment for RA flares is hot AND cold, alternating. This is why I am finding Pernaton Green Lipped Mussel Extract Gel so successful. It's not a cure, of course ( if only!) but gives short-term relief and I use masses last thing at night. . When one first massages in the gel, it is icy cold, but within a little while there is a glowing warmth.

I too suffer from night sweats, though not as bad as at the beginning when I had to change my nightie about four times, and even the sheets. Now, it's usually just one change around 4am. I have a King sized bed but am now on my own. This may sound a bit sad but does mean that when I get a bad sweat, I can roll from wet side to dry side!

I'm not sure that there's anything helpful there, except my empathy. Night sweats are so tiresome .


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Well done for finding a solution to the heat surges and night sweats, I'm sure a lot of menopausal ladies (like myself) on the forum will be interested to hear this strategy. I found that the DMARD meds intensified my menopausal hot flushes/heat surges and tended to prolong them. I was only sleeping for 2 hours, 3 if I was lucky a night, this was not conducive to functioning at work on "all cylinders" and was seriously affecting my psychological health, never mind what it was doing physically to my body (adrenaline/stress hormone surges). I have been off all meds since beginning of September because of side effects and I have to say the ability to sleep for at least 6 hours a night has made a tremendous difference to my physical and mental health. RD pain wise, yes, I have some pain which I am able to tolerate at the moment with pain killers, so just maybe fingers crossed, I am going to be able to manage this without having to be on DMARDs which I seem to have intolerances to.

If pain is what is now keeping you from sleep, then this is what you need to focus on with your health team. Have you tried Biofreeze spray to cool and numb painful joints? I used this recently when a muscle over my shoulder blade went into severe spasm, and it certainly dulled the pain signals.

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The best thing I ever bought for my night sweats is the SlumberCool Climate Control Mattress Protector. I'm currently going through peak menopause and have Rheumatoid arthritis.

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I wish I could offer a helpful suggestion the only thing I can think of is ringing the hospital who prescribe the Tamoxifen and asking if they have any suggestions. I really hope you find a solution and find relief quickly.


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