The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says that of the more than
Though each person may experience osteoarthritis differently, you’ll commonly
To ease osteoarthritis pain and stiffness, you can turn to both medical treatments and home remedies. Typically, treatment relies on a combination of conventional medicine and lifestyle changes. While medications can treat pain, they can also cause side effects when you take them long term.
Home remedies aren’t meant to completely replace medical treatments, but they may be able to help you manage osteoarthritis pain with fewer side effects. In fact,
It’s important to discuss home remedies and lifestyle changes with your doctor before trying them. Here are a few home remedies to consider:
When it comes to pain, hot and cold compresses may be very beneficial. They don’t cause the long-term side effects that medications might. Hot compresses are helpful for joint stiffness, and cold compresses are best for joint pain.
The Arthritis Foundation says that heat helps soothe stiff joints and relax muscles, while cold helps numb sharp pain and reduce inflammation.
Compresses can reduce muscle pain or spasms surrounding a joint. Making a compress can be as simple as using a warm or cold towel.
Epsom salt baths can provide all-over relief, especially for joint pain. The magnesium in Epsom salt may help with inflammation and pain. A
You can buy Epsom salt from a drugstore. According to the Epsom Salt Council, these baths are safe enough to take as often as you’d like for 30 minutes at a time. Use up to 3 cups of Epsom salt in a bath of warm water.
You may want to try topical versions as an alternative to oral over-the-counter (OTC) medications like acetaminophen and ibuprofen.
These gels and creams may contain aspirin or other pain relievers to numb the pain. You can apply them directly to the affected joints. These products can work well for areas that are near the skin surface, such as your knees.
Another topical home remedy is capsaicin. Capsaicin is a compound made from hot chili peppers. A
You may also want to try other ointments like Tiger Balm. Talk with your doctor before experimenting with any of these products.
The Arthritis Foundation says that various types of assistive devices can offer added support without the need for medications. The exact devices you choose depend on the affected joints. According to a 2018 review, options include:
- grabbing or gripping tools
- knee taping (be sure to have your doctor or physical therapist show you first)
- shoe inserts
Herbal remedies are increasing in popularity for conditions like osteoarthritis. Some people believe they may be safer since they have fewer side effects compared with traditional medications.
Talk with your doctor about the following natural remedies. “Natural” herbal supplements can carry side effects and interact with medications you might take. Always be sure to buy supplements from a reputable source.
Due to the risk of liver problems and side effects from concentrated amounts, it’s best to drink green tea in moderation.
Oral ginger is also noted for reducing pain from osteoarthritis. According to a 2015 study, taking ginger long-term may even decrease the risk of osteoarthritis-related disability.
Due to the risk of side effects, the
The biggest risk to ginger overdose is the withdrawal symptoms. Ginger can cause upset stomach, diarrhea, and heartburn. It may also interact with prescription medications, like warfarin, because it’s an anticoagulant, or blood thinner. Speak with your doctor before adding or increasing your consumption of ginger.
Turmeric and curcumin
Curcumin is the active compound in turmeric. It’s part of the ginger family but may help osteoarthritis in different ways. A
If you want to try turmeric as a natural treatment, the Arthritis Foundation recommends using curcumin extract, as whole curcumin may be contaminated with lead. Take 500 milligrams twice daily. While turmeric is generally safe, it can cause nausea and may interact with blood thinners.
For more long-term relief, lifestyle changes are often effective. Regular exercise, a healthy diet, and weight maintenance can help improve joint health and function. Over time, the muscles stabilizing your joints will strengthen and protect against damage.
Exercise can be difficult with painful joints. But staying active can reduce pain in the long run, and even strengthen muscles to prevent further joint damage. The Arthritis Foundation says exercise is “the most effective, non-drug treatment for reducing pain and improving movement in patients with osteoarthritis.”
The best types of exercise for osteoarthritis use slight resistance, improve flexibility, offer an aerobic element, and are low impact. Options include:
- bike riding
- tai chi
Talk with your doctor before starting any new exercises, especially if you haven’t been active before. The Arthritis Foundation recommends 150 minutes of aerobic exercise every week at a moderate intensity or 75 minutes at a higher intensity. You can also start with shorter periods of exercise and add time as you get stronger.
For example, you could start walking for 10 minutes and gradually increase the speed and length of your walks. If you’re new to exercise, you may find slight pain after your workouts. This could mean you need to take 1 or 2 days off and then resume your workout regimen. Don’t quit exercising altogether.
Eat osteoarthritis-friendly foods
Eating a balanced diet can help you feel better and lose weight. Research shows that certain foods are especially beneficial for osteoarthritis. In particular, eating a Mediterranean diet may help you consume the right things and avoid foods that may make your symptoms worse.
According to a small
In addition, good foods to eat include nuts and plant-based oils. An example from a
On the flip side, the Arthritis Foundation says that certain foods can aggravate osteoarthritis symptoms by increasing body inflammation. These foods include:
- aspartame, an artificial sweetener
- saturated and trans fat
- omega-6 fatty acids
- refined carbohydrates like white bread, pasta, or rice
- foods with monosodium glutamate (MSG)
Maintain a moderate weight
According to the Arthritis Foundation, weight loss can go a long way in alleviating joint pain and preventing osteoarthritis.
Maintaining a moderate weight can help you keep excessive pressure away from your joints, as well as help reduce pain and inflammation.
This may be particularly helpful for people with symptoms in their knees and hips, as these joints bear a lot of weight.
Osteoarthritis is a chronic, or lifelong, condition with no cure. Managing your condition and symptoms can go a long way in stopping further damage to your joints. Lifestyle changes and home and natural remedies can complement your treatment plan. They may even provide extra relief.
While such changes can make a big difference, it’s important to know when you need to contact your doctor. You might need to make an appointment if you have a flare-up, your symptoms get worse, or your current treatment plan isn’t helping. Your doctor should check your joint pain and stiffness for potential damage.