Arthritis is a painful and degenerative condition marked by inflammation in the joints that causes stiffness and pain. Osteoarthritis, the most common type of arthritis, gets worse with age and is caused by wear and tear over the years.
Doctors traditionally treat arthritis with anti-inflammatory medications and painkillers. However, some medications cause side effects, and a natural approach to pain relief is becoming more popular. Remember to consult your doctor before trying these natural remedies.
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Your weight can make a big impact on the amount of pain you experience from arthritis. Extra weight puts more pressure on your joints—especially your knees, hips, and feet.
Reducing the stress on your joints by losing weight will improve your mobility, decrease pain, and prevent future damage to your joints.
There are more benefits to exercise than just weight loss. Regular movement helps to maintain flexibility in your joints. Weight-bearing exercises like running and walking can be damaging. Instead, try low-impact exercises like water aerobics or swimming to flex your joints without adding further stress.
Simple hot and cold treatments can make a world of difference when it comes to arthritis pain. Long, warm showers or baths—especially in the morning—help ease stiffness in your joints. Use an electric blanket or heating pad at night to keep your joints loose and use moist heating pads.
Cold treatments are best for relieving joint pain. Wrap a gel ice pack or a bag of frozen vegetables in a towel and apply it to painful joints for quick relief.
Acupuncture is an ancient Chinese medical treatment that involves inserting thin needles into specific points on your body. This is supposed to re-route energies and restore balance in your body.
It is thought that acupuncture has the ability to reduce arthritis pain. If you want to try this treatment method, be sure to find an experienced acupuncturist with good references.
Meditation and relaxation techniques may be able to help you reduce pain from arthritis by reducing stress and enabling you to cope with it better. According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), studies have found that the practice of mindfulness meditation is helpful for some people with painful joints. Researchers also found that those with depression and arthritis benefitted the most from meditation.
Everyone needs omega-3 fatty acids in their diets for optimum health. However, these fats may also help your arthritis. Fish oil supplements, which are high in omega-3s, may help reduce joint stiffness and pain.
Another fatty acid that can help is gamma-linolenic acid, or GLA. It’s found in the seeds of certain plants like evening primrose, borage, hemp, and black currants. You can also buy the oils of the seeds as a supplement. However, be sure to check with your doctor before taking them.
Turmeric, the yellow spice common in Indian dishes, contains a chemical called curcumin that may be able to reduce arthritis pain. The secret is its anti-inflammatory properties.
The NIH reports that turmeric given to lab rats reduced inflammation in their joints. Research on humans is scarce, but it can’t hurt to add this tasty spice to your dinners.
According to the Arthritis Foundation, regular massaging of arthritic joints can help reduce pain and stiffness, and improve your range of motion. Work with a physical therapist to learn self-massage, or schedule appointments with a massage therapist regularly.
Your massage therapist should be experienced with working on people who have arthritis. Check with your doctor for a recommendation.
There are many kinds of herbal supplements on the market that claim to be able to reduce joint pain. Some of the herbs touted for arthritis pain include boswellia, bromelain, devil’s claw, ginkgo, stinging nettle, and thunder god vine.
Always talk to your doctor before trying a new supplement to avoid side effects and dangerous drug interactions.