Arthritis is an extremely painful condition in which patients have swelling and stiffness in the joints. There are several different types of arthritis. Osteoarthritis is the most common type, and the type we associate with aging.
Rheumatoid arthritis is actually an autoimmune disease, and it happens when the immune system confuses the joints with a foreign tissue and attacks them.
Regardless of the type of arthritis, it is not curable and conventional treatment relies on medications to control pain and reduce inflammation. But the remedies have some uncomfortable side effects, and more and more people are trying to decrease the amount of medicine taken, especially when the pills are the “for the rest of your life” type.
The use of natural relief for pain and inflammation can greatly reduce your dependence on the remedies and, let’s face it, will protect your pocket from a monthly injury. We’ve put together seven great strategies for you to try; just remember to ask your doctor before you start.
1. Lose weight
I know, easier said than done, and it seems to be the answer to all the evils of the body. But in the case of arthritis, the more weight you carry, the greater the burden on your joints.
Knees, hips and feet are particularly affected. Losing a few pounds means less impact on the joints, resulting in greater mobility, less pain, and a slower progression of the disease.
But instead of making a crazy diet impossible to maintain for an extended time, we recommend adding more anti-inflammatory foods (broccoli, chestnuts, fatty fish, berries and grapes) to your diet. Let these foods naturally exclude some of the less healthy indulgences, and you will begin to see the weight decrease constantly.
2. More exercises
Exercise can help in weight loss, but it has many other benefits besides this. You probably feel stiffer in the morning, and this is because you haven’t moved much at night. The more you move during the day, the more flexibility you will maintain.
However, high-impact or weightlifting exercises are not the best for those who have arthritis. Forget the idea of doing cooper right now. Instead, focus on low-impact exercises, such as water aerobics, swimming or cycling, to maintain flexibility without causing further joint damage.
3. Hot and cold therapy
Athletes use a combination of hot and cold therapy to deal with injuries sustained on the field, and the same strategies can work for you, even if your injury was caused when getting out of bed.
Take a long bath to help loosen the stiff joints, or try a hot compress over the swollen joints whenever you need to sit for a long period of time.
Cold therapy, on the other hand, is more suitable for pain with numbness and relief from inflammation. A pack of frozen gel, or even a bag of frozen vegetables, can do wonders for that painful throbbing. Do each cold therapy for 20 or less minutes, and cover the area with a towel before applying ice – this will help prevent hypothermia.
Acupuncture is a Chinese medical treatment used 2,000 years ago, which inserts fine needles into very specific parts of the body in order to balance your chi and therefore relieve pain. Western physicians attribute acupuncture’s success to stimulation of nerves, muscles and connective tissue. But whatever explanation you choose, acupuncture can help reduce pain.
If you try acupuncture for pain caused by arthritis, be sure to choose an experienced professional. The most common side effects are tenderness and minor bleeding or bruising at the insertion point.
The industrial standard imposes the use of new disposable needles for each patient, so that infection is not a problem. But if you don’t see being a doctor opening up new needle packs before you do acupuncture on you, run. It is also best not to take acupuncture if you are pregnant or have any bleeding disorders.
Meditation can help you to reach an awareness about the problematic situation with regard to arthritis. Meditation works because stress is one of the main factors of inflammation. Stress makes it harder to perform tasks with your body, and also makes it more difficult for your body to do internal tasks. Studies have found that full awareness can help some people with painful joints.
The principle is basically that resistance to what is happening in the here and now is a source of pain in itself. Just as the pregnant woman is advised to breathe during contractions, people suffering from arthritis may be able to reduce pain to a more controllable level. Acceptance of the condition can actually be more effective than giving in to anger and frustration.
6. More fatty acids
Omega 3 fatty acids are crucial for a healthy body. They supposedly maintain brain health, support their cardiovascular system, and reduce symptoms of metabolic diseases such as high blood pressure and insulin resistance. Omega 3 fatty acids is also able to reduce inflammation.
They do this by limiting production and molecules and substances that are associated with inflammation, including eicosanoides and cytokines. You can get more omega 3s through a fish oil supplement, but great food sources include nuts, soy and, of course, fish.
7. Get a massage
Periodic massage is increasingly used as a complement to traditional medicine. It has been recommended for people with anxiety, frequent headaches and, yes, arthritis. Massage is great for reducing stress, pain and muscle tension. The Arthritis Foundation recommends massage to decrease stiffness and improve range of motion.
A good therapist knows how to work with people who have arthritis. It’s important to choose someone you’re comfortable with, as you’ll need to let them know if you’re in pain. It is also wise to get a “go ahead” from your doctor before starting a routine of periodic massages. Massage can be harmful to your joints if arthritis is too advanced.
Depending on the extent of arthritis, you may find that you can gradually stop with the medication and control your condition naturally. This may not be possible for everyone, and we certainly don’t want to suggest that you suffer instead of taking your meds.
At a minimum, the strategies on our list can help reduce pain and inflammation, potentially slowing the progression of the disease. It’s a bet worth making any day of the week. You have nothing to lose, you only have to earn with a better life.