Arthritis stems from one of two medical conditions: osteoarthritis — the degeneration of cartilage and bone — or rheumatoid arthritis — an autoimmune disease. While medical professionals can prescribe pain relievers and other medications to help combat symptoms, most suggest combining medicine and natural approaches for relief. There are several options for treating your arthritis at home without depending on prescriptions or over-the-counter products alone.
Exercise can seem counterintuitive to those with arthritis because it involves impact and absorption at the joints. However, the appropriate form of exercise can promote flexibility while strengthening the fundamental muscles around affected bones and cartilage.
When starting an exercise regimen, you should talk with your doctor about appropriate exercises, and you need to consider your current level of physical activity and health. People with arthritis will want to focus on low-impact workouts, which include:
- Water activities
- Tai chi
2. Weight Management
Managing your weight can have a significant impact on your arthritis. The heavier you are, the more pressure you place on critical joints, including the knees, hips, and ankles. With degenerative conditions like osteoarthritis, obesity can increase the rate of deterioration. The American College of Rheumatology and the Arthritis Foundation suggests losing weight can have significant benefits on arthritic conditions, such as:
- Decreasing pain
- Improving mobility
- Preventing future damage
Before delving into a weight loss journey, consult your primary physician to set goals. Your doctor can help determine a healthy target weight and design an effective program.
As always, a healthy and balanced diet is the key to optimum health. A rich diet comprised primarily of fruits, vegetables, and whole foods can boost immune system strength and coordination. While there is evidence suggesting a strong correlation between rheumatoid arthritis and dietary choices, some studies also support the use of a diet to improve the lives of those with osteoarthritis.
When assessing your current diet, there are several items to limit or stay away from, including processed foods, red meat, added sugars, saturated fats, and salt. As for the foods you want to include:
- Fatty fish (high in omega-3s)
- Turmeric dishes
- Citrus fruits
As a chronic pain condition, arthritis leads to stress, anxiety, and sometimes depression. The National Institutes of Health offer several studies and examples of how mindfulness can improve the mentality and physical condition of those with arthritis, especially rheumatoid arthritis.
When you meditate, you help your body relax. When your body is relaxed, the brain has less need to produce fight-or-flight hormones, including cortisol — the stress hormone. Meditation, then, can inhibit the body's inflammatory responses by controlling unhelpful chemical reactions, potentially curbing arthritis pain.
Practitioners of acupuncture — an ancient Chinese medical treatment — believe that inserting thin needles into precise locations on the body can help reroute energies and balance the body's meridians. With limited research-backed evidence, it is challenging to prescribe acupuncture as a definitive treatment for arthritis. Still, there is enough circumstantial evidence to suggest the practice can help some patients.
6. Herbal Supplements
While not backed by scientific research, some evidence suggests that herbs can help with arthritis symptoms. Some of the most popular herbs include:
- Thunder god vine
- Devil's claw
- Stinging nettle
Arthritis is a chronic pain condition, but several home remedies and options can help relieve symptoms. If you are interested in trying one of the above methods to manage arthritis symptoms, talk to your doctor first.
Do you have any suggestions for arthritis pain relief?