6 Home Remedies To Manage Arthritis Pain

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.

1. Exercise

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:  

  • Cycling  
  • Walking  
  • Water activities  
  • Tai chi  
  • Yoga

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. 

3. Diet

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  
  • Tofu  
  • Edamame  
  • Dairy  
  • Broccoli  
  • Citrus fruits  
  • Nuts

4. Mindfulness

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.

5. Acupuncture

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:  

  • Ginko  
  • Bromelain  
  • Boswellia  
  • 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?

6 Exercises To Alleviate Knee Pain

Are you among the 25% of American adults who struggle with chronic knee pain according to the Administration for Community Living? Often, this issue results from arthritis, overuse, injury, or stress on the joint.

Physical activities that stretch and strengthen the knee often alleviate stiffness and discomfort. You can also build surrounding muscles to remove pressure from the joint. Educate yourself on these six exercises for knee pain that can potentially provide relief. Always warm up with 15 to 20 minutes of walking, cycling or another type of low-impact cardio before you start.

Calf Raises

For this basic leg-strengthening exercise:

  • Stand with feet about shoulder-width apart.
  • Shift your weight to the balls of your feet, raising both heels off the ground.
  • Lower your heels back to the ground slowly in a controlled motion.
  • Repeat for three sets of 10 reps each.

Hamstring Curls

Bolster these muscles behind the thigh with this simple stretching exercise:

  • Lay face-down on a yoga mat or blanket. 
  • Bend your heels toward your backside and hold as long as you can.
  • Perform three sets, each with 15 reps.

If the hamstring curl starts to feel too easy, try adding light ankle weights to (gently) amp up the intensity.

Leg Lifts

For this exercise, lay flat on your back with a blanket or yoga mat for comfort, then follow these steps:

  • Bend the right leg at the knee, moving your heel toward your rear and keeping your left leg straight.
  • Draw in your abs by pretending an invisible string running from the floor is pulling your belly straight down. Your lower back should be flush with the floor.
  • Slowly lift the left leg off the ground, still straight. Keep the foot flexed. Stop at about 12 inches and hold the pose for 5 seconds. 
  • Lower the leg back to the floor with a slow, controlled movement. 
  • Repeat twice more with the left leg, then do the same with the right leg.

Quadriceps Stretch

This standing stretch benefits the knee joint. Start with feet shoulder-width apart, then:

  • Bend your right knee and bring your heel toward your rear just as you did with the hamstring curls.
  • Clasp your right ankle with your right hand.
  • Hold the stretch for a count of 10 before gently releasing your foot.
  • Repeat on the left side, then do 15 to 20 more reps. 
  • You can increase the intensity by using a yoga strap to carefully deepen the stretch.

Step-Ups

You can use a staircase in your home or an exercise step to work out your glutes, hip flexors, hamstrings and quadriceps:

  • Step up with your right foot, letting your left foot fall behind the stair.
  • Shift your weight to your right foot and hold for about 5 seconds.
  • Lower the left foot back down to the floor, followed by the right.
  • Repeat with the left foot and then complete 10 to 15 sets of both legs.

Wall Squats

For this move, place your back against a wall and feet in alignment with your shoulders, then follow these steps:

  • Bend your knees slowly while keeping your pelvis and back flush with the wall.
  • Hold the squat for 5 to 10 seconds.
  • Repeat, holding a bit longer each time.
  • Stop or relax if you feel discomfort or pressure in the knee joint.

Some sources of knee pain won't resolve with exercise alone. See your healthcare provider if you experience joint pain accompanied by a fever, redness and swelling around the joint, pain that doesn't get better with exercise and self-care, or pain that wakes you at night or worsens with activity.