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Rheumatoid arthritis is a common type of arthritis, which is a disease characterized by inflammation of joints. This article outlines home remedies to treat symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis including products, supplements, strategies and therapies.

Arthritis, a common disease characterized by inflammation of joints, is a painful and debilitating disorder that leads to stiffness of joints and pain.

There are more than a 100 different forms of arthritis, the major categories of which include degenerative arthritis (osteoarthritis), inflammatory or autoimmune arthritis, infectious (septic) arthritis and metabolic arthritis.

One of the most common types of arthritis is rheumatoid arthritis, which is a subtype of inflammatory arthritis. Currently, there is no cure for rheumatoid arthritis. However, there are several medical treatments that can help treat the symptoms of the disease. Additionally, there are home remedies you can help relieve pain and stiffness. This article outlines different home remedies that can be undertaken by patients with rheumatoid arthritis.

These are some products that you can keep at home that can help treatment symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis:

1. Hot pad or ice packs. Applying an ice pack to the affected joint during a flareup can help reduce inflammation and swelling. Apply a heating pad to the joint can help relax muscles and improve blood flow.

2. Magnets. Some people use magnets in the form of bracelets, necklaces, inserts or pads as a therapy for managing rheumatoid arthritis. Doctors are not sure exactly how magnets might relieve pain, but some people find them helpful.

Supplements that can be used at home to relieve pain

3. Thunder god vine. This is a supplement that has been shown to help reduce inflammation and tender joints in patients with rheumatoid arthritis. In fact, a large study compared the use of thunder god vine to a traditional rheumatoid arthritis drug and found that symptoms improved more with use of thunder god vine. However, it is hard to obtain safe and high-quality thunder god vine.

4. Capsaicin. This substance in chili peppers is what makes them hot. However, while it may seem counterintuitive, products that contain capsaicin can actually help ease pain induced by rheumatoid arthritis. This can include topical cream, gels and patches.

5. Turmeric. This spice is part of the ginger family and has been used in traditional medicine for centuries. Studies have shown that it blocks proteins that cause inflammation and can help ease pain in rheumatoid arthritis.

Strategies to use at home to treat rheumatoid arthritis

6. Deep Breathing. This technique involves taking slow breaths that originate from your belly. This has been found to reduce stress levels in the body. Deep breathing can also distract your brain from thoughts about pain.

7. Exercise. Doctors agree that exercise is an important component of staying healthy and maintaining functional status in patients with rheumatoid arthritis. Exercise can be difficult to undertake as a patient with rheumatoid arthritis but it can help lower swelling and ease the pain. Doctors can refer you to a physical therapist that can teach you exercises that are right for you. Ideally, it is best to focus on aerobics (such as walking or swimming), strength training (to keep muscles around joints strong), range-of-motion exercises (to help maintain range-of-motion in the joints) and balance moves (to help avoid stumbles and falls).

8. Meditation. This technique involves focusing on your breathing and noticing each time you inhale or exhale. Even just a few minutes of meditation can make a difference.

9. Visualization. This is a simple exercise which consists of closing your eyes, breathing deeply and picturing yourself in a quiet, peaceful place. This technique can help reduce pain and stress in patients with rheumatoid arthritis.

10. Progressive muscle relaxation. This a technique that involves tightening and relaxing muscles in different parts of your body. Start progressive muscle relaxation with your fascial muscles and then work your way down to the neck, arms, chest, back, belly, legs, and finally feet. You can also work your way back up. As you contract your muscles, remember to breathe in and breathe out when you let go. This helps to relax muscles.

11. Tai Chi. This is a type of martial arts that is slow and therefore gentle on the joints. You will stand and do movements that are easy to change if your joints are sore. While not enough studies have investigated Tai chi in the context of rheumatoid arthritis, it can help with strength, flexibility, and balance.

12. Yoga. This type of exercise is a form of low-impact activity that involves focusing on breathing and meditation. It has been used for centuries and has been found to ease joint pain, improve flexibility, and reduce stress. Studies have also shown that yoga helps lower chemicals in your body that are involved inflammation and stress. Again, it is best to find an instructor that has experience with patients with rheumatoid arthritis.

Complementary therapies that can help ease pain and provide relief

13. Acupuncture. Acupuncture is a type of traditional Chinese medicine that has been used for centuries to help relieve pain. It is best to work with a practitioner that has experience working with patients with rheumatoid arthritis.

14. Aromatherapy. This type of therapy, which involves the use of essential oils that are applied to your body in the form of a massage, can help boost your mood. However, studies have not shown that aromatherapy can help relieve pain or treat inflammation.

15. Massage. Studies have shown that getting a massage can help ease pain. However, it is best to work with a massage therapist that has already worked with patients that have rheumatoid arthritis.

  • Stenström, C. H. "Home exercise in rheumatoid arthritis functional class II: goal setting versus pain attention." The Journal of rheumatology 21.4 (1994): 627-634.
  • Brus, Herman LM, et al. "Effects of patient education on compliance with basic treatment regimens and health in recent onset active rheumatoid arthritis." Annals of the rheumatic diseases 57.3 (1998): 146-151.
  • Hoffman, Tamar. "Ginger: an ancient remedy and modern miracle drug." Hawaii medical journal 66.12 (2007): 326-327.
  • Shaul, Muriel P. "From early twinges to mastery: the process of adjustment in living with rheumatoid arthritis." Arthritis & Rheumatism: Official Journal of the American College of Rheumatology 8.4 (1995): 290-297.
  • Photo courtesy of SteadyHealth.com

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