Can Hot Tubs Help Soothe Arthritis Pain?

Jennifer Rhodes

By Jennifer Rhodes · Updated

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When done correctly and responsibly, soaking in a hot tub regularly can work wonders on arthritis pain. Heat therapy and hydrotherapy are some of the most beneficial things for any kind of chronic pain, so it's understandable why a hot tub would be a great choice.

If you've been on the fence about getting a hot tub for arthritis pain relief, give it a try while on vacation somewhere or at a friend's house. Take note of how you feel afterward and see if it helps to relieve aches and pains.

Whether you want to just soak in the warm water to soothe aching joints or use the water jets for targeted pressure point therapy, a hot tub can do a lot of good in relieving arthritis pain.

How do hot tubs help with arthritis pain?

Reduce inflammation

One of the hallmark symptoms of arthritis is painfully swollen, inflamed joints. It can be difficult to find relief from the pain caused by arthritis inflammation even with medications and other therapies.

Taking pressure off joints is a wonderful way to reduce inflammation and swelling in the body naturally—and the weightless sensation you get from floating in water can achieve this. By soaking in a hot tub regularly, the hot water can work on relieving your joints to soothe the inflamed areas and relieve some of the most stubborn chronic arthritis pain.

Improve circulation

If you find yourself staying seated in one place for most of the day thanks to your arthritis pain, your circulation may be suffering. The less you move around during the day, the less reason your body has to get your heart pumping which circulates new blood. This can actually lead to more stiffness.

When dealing with consistent arthritis pain, it's challenging to find the motivation to fight through the pain and get moving to improve things like circulation. This is one of many reasons a hot tub is a great tool to have.

The combination of hot water and the hydrotherapy of the massaging jets in a hot tub can help improve blood flow throughout your body. When you have better circulation, you can move around and go about your day comfortably and hopefully pain-free.

Relieve aches and stiffness

Most arthritis flares up in predictable places in the body or at specific times. Sometimes it's after you push your body too hard or overuse a certain muscle that is not up to the task. Rather than laying around thinking about it, turn to your hot tub to get some much-needed relief.

Research has shown that by just soaking in hot water for short periods, you can soothe and relax the achy muscles and stiff joints associated with your arthritis flare-up. And if you want deeper relief, use the hot water jets to gently massage the area.

Harnessing the powers of hydrotherapy and heat can make a big difference in shortening a bad flare-up and get you back on your feet quicker than you normally might.


Many doctors recommend that arthritis patients work on mental relaxation as part of their care plan as well. When you take care of your mind as well as your body, everything works much more smoothly together.

Spending some time in the hot tub is a great way to relax your mind and get some time to yourself. Use your hot tub soak to meditate, read, listen to some music, or simply just sit in silence. Focus on taking deep, cleansing breaths and releasing any tension in your body.

Relaxing in your hot tub can help lower blood pressure, improve your mood, promote more restful sleep, and more. All of these things will help you be stronger against arthritis pain.

Weightless stretching and exercising

Most arthritis symptoms improve with regular movement. If you are in chronic pain where even simple stretching or light exercise feels impossible, using a hot tub might be the answer.

Not only are you more buoyant when submerged in water, making stretches easier to achieve, but you also have the added benefit of the heat from the water warming your muscles and making them more pliable.

Consider trying a few light stretches, yoga, or simple exercise moves when you soak in the hot tub.

Move slowly and cautiously through each movement until you are comfortable doing them in the water. You will be surprised to find that you are better able to perform the moves—and your body will thank you later when you feel more mobile.

Do you need to ask your doctor before using a hot tub for arthritis?

It's always a good idea to check with your doctor before starting any regular regimen for arthritis pain. Most doctors will agree that hot tubs are a great tool to use to relieve arthritis pain and should support regular use.

How often should you use a hot tub for arthritis?

You can use a hot tub daily for arthritis if you wish. Short dips in the hot tub (15-20 minutes) every day can help to keep chronic arthritis pain at bay and make it feel much more manageable.

Even if you only have time to get in the hot tub a few times per week, you should still notice a reduction in arthritis pain and other symptoms. You can also use the hot tub situationally to treat a particular arthritis flare-up if you do not have time to go in it every day.

What if you struggle to get in and out of the spa?

If you have limited mobility along with arthritis, hot tub access probably sounds daunting. There are actually a few things you can do to make this easier, from choosing the right hot tub to adding sturdy steps and strategically placed handrails.

I have another article dedicated to this which has lots of useful tips and advice on how to improve hot tub accessibility for elderly or disabled spa users.

Can hot tubs make arthritis worse?

With proper use, hot tubs should not make arthritis symptoms worse. Be sure that you are not staying in the hot tub too long or overdoing it on exercises. The hot tub should be used as a mind and body relaxation tool.

If you notice that the hot tub is making your arthritis worse, stop using it and speak with your doctor.

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