SMART TEMP HOT/COLD PAD: TOOK THE SMARTS RIGHT OUT OF MY KNEE!

Smart Temp Portable Reusable Hot Cold Pad

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Pros: easy to use, effective, versatile, affordable

Cons: holds temp for less than an hour, takes three times that to refreeze, may be prone to leakage when heated.

I seem to be aging.  I’m not sure how it happened, as I made a promise to myself decades (!) ago that I wasn’t going to partake in that particular activity.  It just didn’t sound like much fun.

How right I was.

A few years ago, my joints started to go on me.  One at a time, sometimes for a few days, sometimes for a few months.  Ever have an arm that’s basically worthless for three months?  I have.  This time around?  It’s my right knee.  I’m not very kind to my knees, I have a habit of hunkering, squatting, and going  down on one knee, then pivoting to sit.  That one knee would be, of course, the one that began screaming in agony any time I bent it, shifted it, or really used it in any way.  Not a good thing when you live in a three-story townhouse without an elevator.

After a few days of increasing pain, I noticed a wobbly bump of sorts on the front of my knee.  Ahhh.  Bursitis!  Also known as “water on the knee” or “handmaiden’s knee.”

I asked my husband to get me something—some Ben Gay or Icy Hot.  Anything to maybe help.  What he came home with was the Smart Temp Portable Reusable Hot Cold Pad.  Yeah, that’s a big name.

Can I just say my husband rocks?

This pad is really nothing more than a freezable/microwave-heatable gel pack of about six inches by ten inches.  It slips into a soft, washable cover that boasts a broad (about two inches) elasticized Velcro strap for holding it in place.  That easy?

That easy.

For heat (which I don’t use this for—I have a heating pad for that), the gel pack is placed in the microwave for three minutes (read the directions!).  For moist heat, do the same, then spritz the cover with water.  For cold, the gel pack is placed in the freezer for a few hours.  The pack remains weirdly flexible even when frozen, and molds to the body part being treated.  I keep the pack in the cover and freeze the whole thing because the gel pack can be a bit difficult to get into the cover when cold.

It really doesn’t take any more effort than that.  While the Velcro is meant to stick to the strap itself, fact is, it also sticks quite nicely to the cover, so if you need to use this on your back or some other wider part, you can.  The pack stays cold or hot for up to 60 minutes before requiring a refreeze or reheat.

Now, there are some safety issues here.  Not as many as with an electric device, but some are much the same:

  • You can burn yourself—check the temp by pressing against the inside of your wrist.  If it’s too hot, wait.
  • Never apply pack directly to skin; always keep inside the cover when using.
  • If you’re diabetic with sensation decrements, speak with your doctor and use extreme caution.
  • Don’t use if you suffer nerve damage or paralysis unless your doctor approves.
  • Don’t use this on infants/babies.  Or folks who are unable to express discomfort or remove the pad.
  • Don’t sit on this product or otherwise allow it to bear your weight—it’s a bag, it could rupture.
  • Do not use in conjunction with ointments or liniments of any kind.

Now, I don’t know what’s in this thing—gel-stuff.  I do know that some packages read “gel bag made in Canada,” while others (like mine) read “gel bag made in USA.”  There is a latex sensitivity warning, and that might give us a clue.  The literature states that the contents of the gel pack are “non-toxic when used as directed.”  Which seems an odd turn of phrase.

In all, I have zero complaints about this product.  It has been a near-miracle, and I could kiss my husband every day for picking it up.  Between this, the heating pad, and warm epsom soaks (plus some serious “how I treat my knee” modifications), I’m seeing marked improvement.  That said, I would be remiss if I didn’t point out that some folks, particularly those who use this product for heat, complain of leakage/breakage after microwaving.  Clearly I haven’t had any such problem, but some folks do, and it’s something to bear in mind.

The Smart Temp Portable Reusable Hot Cold Pad comes with a one year warranty against defects in workmanship.  However, the shipping’s on you.

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