When your joints flare up, it can be tempting to go for a quick fix. While NSAIDs, steroids, narcotics, injections, and even antidepressants can help provide relief from arthritis pain, these drugs often come with undesirable side effects. Before you head for the medicine cabinet or ask your doctor to grab his prescription pad, try some of these natural ways to ease your arthritis pain.
Excess weight increases the complications of arthritis and can add further stress to your already aching joints. Whether you’re overweight or not, make sure you’re moving throughout the day. Set an alarm on your watch or phone to go off every half an hour. Each time the alarm sounds, stand up and walk around for a minute or two. This will help keep your joints from getting stiff.
Stretch It Out
Even if you’re not ready to start an exercise regimen, you’re less likely to feel stiff in the mornings if you stretch in the evenings. Try doing arm circles and shoulder shrugs. Side bends, where you put your hands on your hips and bend from the waist to one side and then the other, will also warm up your muscles. Roll your neck to increase range of motion, and focus on getting a good stretch in.
Heat can temporarily relieve some of your pain, and there are many different ways to do it. Apply heating pads to specific joints, or relax in a hot bath or shower. Hot tubs and warm swimming pools also provide a bit of exercise and can be very soothing for arthritis sufferers.
Arthritis isn’t just painful; it can be quite stressful and massage therapy is excellent for relieving some of that pain and stress. Look for a massage therapist at a day spa or head to a physical therapy clinic. Many massage therapists have taken courses to specialize in arthritic massage, and there are several types of massage that could help. Alternatively, ask a loved one to give you a hand or foot massage using some of these techniques – or massage yourself!
There are hundreds of herbs, vitamins, and minerals on the market that claim to ease the symptoms of arthritis, but most don’t have much science to back them up. However, some supplements, including gamma linolenic acid (GLA), capsaicin, and curcumin (found in turmeric) have been proven to help reduce inflammation or pain caused by arthritis.
Diet is, of course, a huge factor in how much you weigh, but did you know that some of the foods you eat can actually help with your arthritis? The omega-3 fatty acids found in fish like salmon and herring can significantly decrease joint tenderness. One meta-analysis found that fish oil supplementation reduced or even eliminated NSAID use. Teas containing ginger and cat’s claw can also help reduce inflammation. Choose whole grains over refined carbs and sugars, and avoid fried or processed foods. Candy and fruit juices will make blood-sugar levels skyrocket, triggering an inflammatory response that could exacerbate your arthritis. Stick with a wide variety of fruits and vegetables, as well as fish and healthy oils, and you may see a real difference in your arthritis pain!
There are several types of arthritis, but all sufferers can agree that arthritis pain is terrible. It turns everyday activities into long, painful endeavors. In some cases, medication may be your best option. But even if you are taking a medication, some of these changes are sure to make you feel better. Eating well, exercising, and stretching benefit everyone, even those without arthritis.