Arthritis is a reality for one in ten adults and it is generally characterized by joint inflammation and pain.
Osteoarthritis is the most common form, and is related to years of wear and tear on the joints, particularly hands and knees. Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic form occurring on both sides of the body symmetrically. Pain occurs when the bones rub against each other as the lining that cushions the bones has become inflamed causing damage to the bones.
For more than fifteen percent of those affected, the pain is debilitating, making even routine activities difficult. Medications help patients cope with arthritis pain but many people are also turning to natural ways of managing their symptoms.
These are ten natural ways to help ease arthritis pain:
Exercise tops the list for coping with joint pain. Walking, biking, yoga, swimming and aquatic exercises help maintain flexibility, and weight-bearing exercise will help keep bones strong.
Physical therapists help patients build strength while teaching the correct movements to avoid injury. A therapist specializing in treating osteoarthritis patients will understand the gentle approach required in helping those with arthritis pain, and will be able to recommend a personal workout plan.
Research shows that meditation or mind and body therapies are helpful to individuals that suffer with chronic pain. The mind and body approach includes breathing and relaxation exercises as well as yoga or tai chi. Both teach mental focus while building strength and increasing flexibility.
Fish oil may help ease inflammation caused by arthritis. In many cases, fish oils are as effective as anti-inflammatory medications. Check with your Doctor before taking non-prescription remedies or supplements.
Hot and cold
It’s simple but effective! A hot bath can work wonders to relax joints and aching muscles. Alternating an ice pack with a heating pad can also offer relief. Your doctor or physical therapist may offer advice about how to gain the most benefit from applying heat and cold.
Dr. Roy Altman MD, professor of medicine at UCLA, says studies support that taking glucosamine sulfate is beneficial in helping relieve arthritis pain. Dr. Altman recommends 1500 mg daily – consult with your doctor if you are considering taking glucosamine or any dietary supplements.
Arthritis pain may be managed by sticking with a healthy body weight. Studies show that one pound of weight lost equals four pounds less pressure on the knees. In many cases, the symptoms of osteoarthritis may actually disappear with weight loss.
Stress can be harmful to anyone, but to those living with arthritis, stress can wreak havoc. Flare-ups are a typical symptom of rheumatoid arthritis and worrying about when the next one may occur can compound your anxiety. With help from your doctor, you will learn how to control the pain. Regularly practicing stress management techniques including yoga, deep breathing and meditation will do wonders toward helping ease arthritis pain.
A healthy diet combined with exercise lends to weight management, which in turn helps manage arthritis pain. Studies show that a Mediterranean diet loaded with fruits, vegetables, cereals, legumes, and olive oil, helps reduce joint pain. Try incorporating foods rich in omega-3s like salmon, sardines, walnuts and spinach just to name a few.
Stretch and Rest
To get the most out of your day, begin the day with a complete stretch that includes all your joints. Your physical therapist will be able to recommend the most beneficial stretches. Resting can help relax mind and body, which helps ease fatigue associated with arthritis. Getting the right amount of rest is important, too much can be as detrimental as not enough.
No matter what your approach may be, remember to protect your joints. Be conscious of even the smallest tasks, for example – hold a book in the palm of your hand rather than with your fingers. Take breaks when you feel pain and don’t exercise if your joints are inflamed. With the right pain management strategies and advice from your Doctor, managing arthritis pain can be a reality.