Staying active, managing your weight, and making changes to your diet are a few natural ways to ease arthritis pain. Some alternative therapies may also help improve flexibility or relieve stiffness.

Arthritis refers to a range of conditions that involve pain and inflammation in the joints.

Some types of arthritis are degenerative, which means symptoms typically worsen over time.

For example, osteoarthritis results from the wear and tear of cartilage that causes bones to rub together. This leads to friction, damage, and inflammation.

Other types of arthritis like rheumatoid arthritis (RA) are autoimmune conditions. These happen when the immune system mistakenly attacks healthy joint tissue, causing inflammatory flares.

Doctors can prescribe medication to relieve the pain of arthritis, but they often recommend natural approaches, too.

Keep reading to learn more about 9 ways to help you manage your arthritis pain at home.

Your weight can have a big impact on arthritis symptoms. Extra weight may put more pressure on your joints, especially your knees, hips, and feet.

Guidelines from the American College of Rheumatology and Arthritis Foundation (ACR/AF) recommend losing weight if you have osteoarthritis and overweight or obesity.

Losing 5% of your current body weight if you have obesity is enough to have clinical benefits. However, the more weight you lose, the more benefits you may gain, such as:

  • improving your mobility
  • decreasing pain
  • preventing future damage to your joints

A doctor can help you set a target weight and design a program to help you reach that target.

If you have arthritis, exercise may help you:

  • manage your weight
  • keep your joints flexible
  • strengthen muscles around your joints to offer more support

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends getting 150 minutes of physical activity per week. Some good exercise options include low-impact exercises, such as:

Speak with a healthcare professional or trainer if you’re not sure where to start. They can help develop an exercise plan that’s right for you.

Heat and cold treatments may help relieve arthritis pain and inflammation.

  • Heat treatments may include taking a long, warm shower or bath in the morning to help ease stiffness. You can use an electric blanket or moist heating pad to reduce discomfort overnight.
  • Cold treatments may help relieve joint pain, swelling, and inflammation. Wrap a gel ice pack or a bag of frozen vegetables in a towel and apply it to painful joints for quick relief. Never apply ice directly to the skin.
  • Capsaicin, which comes from chili peppers, is a component of some topical ointments and creams that you can buy over the counter. These products provide warmth that can soothe joint pain.

Acupuncture is an ancient Chinese medical treatment that involves inserting thin needles into specific points on your body. Some research suggests that it may help alleviate arthritis pain and improve quality of life and physical function.

The risk of harm with acupuncture is considerably low. However, more research is needed to fully support its benefits for arthritis treatment.

Be sure to find a licensed and certified acupuncturist to carry out this treatment.

People with RA are two times more likely than people without RA to have depression. While RA may impact your mental health, stress, anxiety, and depression may also increase inflammation in your body and worsen arthritis.

Some relaxation techniques may help reduce the pain of arthritis by lowering stress. According to the Arthritis Foundation, these may include:

An anti-inflammatory diet that’s rich in fresh fruits, vegetables, and whole foods can help boost your immune system and your overall health.

Research suggests that dietary choices may affect people living with arthritis. For example, vegan and Mediterranean diets have been associated with decreased disease activity. Omega-3 fatty acids may help decrease joint stiffness and pain.

Below is a list of foods to eat and foods to avoid if you’re living with arthritis.

Foods to eatFoods to avoid
fatty fish
olive oil
added sugars
processed meats
highly-processed foods
foods high in salt
• some vegetable oils
• foods high in AGEs

It’s important to speak with a healthcare professional before eliminating foods from your diet, as this may lead to nutritional deficiencies.

Turmeric, the yellow spice common in Indian dishes, contains a chemical called curcumin. This may have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties that could help reduce arthritis pain and inflammation.

More research is needed to show how turmeric works. However, adding a small amount of this mild but tasty spice to your dinner is likely to be a safe option.

Massage can provide an overall sense of well-being and help manage joint pain, stiffness, and discomfort.

A 2021 study also found that a Swedish massage could help reduce the amount of pain relievers people take to manage their symptoms of arthritis.

That said, the ACR/AF doesn’t currently recommend massage as a treatment because there’s not enough evidence to confirm that it works. They add, however, that massage is unlikely to pose a risk and may provide indirect benefits, such as reducing stress.

Ask a doctor to recommend a massage therapist who has experience treating people with arthritis. Alternatively, you could ask a physical therapist to teach you self-massage.

Some herbal supplements may help reduce joint pain. However, scientific research hasn’t confirmed that any specific herb or supplement can treat arthritis.

Some of these herbs include:

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) doesn’t monitor herbs and supplements for quality, purity, or safety. Therefore, you cannot be sure exactly what a product contains. Be sure to buy from a reputable source.

Always talk to a doctor before trying a new supplement, as some can cause side effects and dangerous drug interactions.

What is the most effective pain reliever for arthritis?

Some over-the-counter (OTC) pain relievers for arthritis may include nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), acetaminophen (Tylenol), and capsaicin topical creams. Prescription medications like immunotherapy and corticosteroids could provide pain relief by decreasing inflammation.

How do you stop arthritis from getting worse?

The best way to help prevent arthritis from getting worse is to follow your treatment plan. This may include taking medications, doing daily exercises and stretches, practicing meditation, and eating a well-balanced diet.

How do you stop an arthritis flare-up?

Some ways to help manage arthritis flare-ups may include resting your joints, using heat and ice treatments, and using OTC pain relievers and NSAIDs.

Arthritis refers to a group of conditions that may cause stiffness, inflammation, and pain in your joints.

A treatment plan may help provide pain relief, slow disease progression, and improve your quality of life.

Speak with a healthcare professional if arthritis is impacting your daily functions. They could help develop a management plan that’s right for you.