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Patients with arthritis, a disease characterized by inflammation of joints, tend to experience significant joint pain. This article outlines natural remedies to help treat arthritis pain.

Arthritis, a disease that is characterized by the inflammation of joints, is composed of several different subtypes including rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis. The main symptoms associated with arthritis include joint pain and stiffness. Unfortunately, there is no cure for arthritis but there are treatments that can help slow down progression and treat the symptoms of the disease. Some people also choose to pursue natural remedies alongside their treatment protocols in order to treat arthritis pain. However, it is important to make sure you doctor approves of natural remedies before you start to use them.

There are several different natural treatments for arthritis pain. Here's what you should know about them. 

Weight loss and exercise

The best, most natural thing you can do for your body and to treat arthritis is to lose weight if you are overweight or obese. This is because carrying around extra weight adds extra stress on the joints, which, in turn, leads to high levels of inflammation, swelling and pain.

Similarly, exercise is very beneficial for you as it not only helps you lose weight but it also gets you going and moving, which keeps your joints flexible and helps maintain your joint’s range of motion. It also helps strengthen the muscles around your joints, which can further improve joint movement. It is best to discuss the types of exercises you should do with a qualified therapist or your doctor because some types of exercises can be detrimental to arthritis. A physical therapist can help devise an individualized plan for you. The types of exercises that the physical therapist can recommend include:

  • Aerobics, such as walking or swimming
  • Strength training to improve muscle mass around your joint
  • Balancing exercises, as they help improve your posture and stop you from falling
  • Range-of-motion exercises, to help maintain the range of motion for your joints.
  • Yoga, which is a low-impact exercise that helps improve breathing and helps ease stress, and reduce inflammation and joint pain.

Application of heat or cold

Application of extreme temperatures on joints can help curb inflammation and joint swelling. Depending on your symptoms, it might be best to pick one or the other. The benefits of cold application is that it helps curbs inflammation and swelling during a flare-up of arthritis. However, it is important to not overdo it and only apply a cold compress for 15 minutes a time. It is also important to take a half hour break between treatments. The benefits of heat include helping your muscles relax and encouraging blood flow. For heat application, you can use a moist heating pad or a warm towel. Many people also use microwaveable hot packs which can be applied to the joint affected. However, it is important to make sure the heat pack does not get too hot as your skin shouldn’t burn. Another way to apply heat to joints is to soak your body in a hot tub full of warm water as it is a good way to relax stiff muscles.

Magnets

Magnets have been studied in the context of osteoarthritis, which is the most common subtype of arthritis. Magnet therapy, which comes in many different forms including bracelets, necklaces, inserts, pads and disks, can help improve joint pain in patients with osteoarthritis. However, scientists are unsure exactly how magnetic therapy works and there is no clear evidence for its effectiveness in other subtypes. These are available at health food stores.

Acupuncture

Acupuncture is a traditional therapy that has been practiced in China for centuries. Acupuncture is an old natural pain remedy for all patients. It involves the use of thin needles to help stimulate energy in the body. The goal of the treatment is to correct the imbalance of energy and re-direct energy to help restore balance in your body. Acupuncture has been shown in some studies to lower inflammatory chemicals in your body, thereby reducing pain. It is important to ask your doctor if this is appropriate for you and, if so, would they have any recommendations for a certified acupuncturist in the region.

Aromatherapy

While aromatherapy has not been linked to an improvement in pain or inflammation, it can help boost your mood levels. In fact, one study found that a lemon scent can help significantly improve your mood. Essential oils along with the use of aromatherapy can also help improve your mood.

Biofeedback

Biofeedback is a technique that can be used to help control our bodily functions such as heart rate and blood pressure. Biofeedback involves the use of sensors which send information to your body through a monitor. Then, a therapist teaches you strategies on how to control your stress.

Deep breathing

Deep breathing is an exercise that involves taking slow breaths from your belly. It can help calm you down and also turn off receptors that tighten your muscles and worsen your pain. Additionally, if you focus on breathing then that distracts your brain from thoughts about your joint pain.

Massage

This is a natural pain remedy that goes back centuries. There are several different types of massages you can do but it is important to find a massage therapist that has previous experience working with arthritis patients.

Other natural remedies

There are several different other types of natural remedies including meditation (which helps ease stress), progressive muscle relaxation (a technique of relaxing your muscles), tai chi (a slow, gentle martial art), thunder god vine (a supplement that leads to a drop in inflammation and tender joints), topical creams (which helps reduce swelling and pain when applied to the skin on top of affected joint), turmeric (a type of spice that has anti-inflammatory properties), and visualization (a technique that helps reduce stress and pain).

  • Walker-Bone, Karen. "‘Natural remedies’ in the treatment of osteoarthritis." Drugs & aging 20.7 (2003): 517-526.
  • Percival, Mark. "Understanding the natural management of pain and inflammation." Clin. Nutr. Insights 4 (1999): 1-5.
  • Chopra, Arvind. "Ayurvedic medicine and arthritis." Rheumatic Disease Clinics of North America 26.1 (2000): 133-144.
  • Mills, S. Y., et al. "Effect of a proprietary herbal medicine on the relief of chronic arthritic pain: a double-blind study." Rheumatology 35.9 (1996): 874-878.
  • Photo courtesy of SteadyHealth

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