Arthritis pain can be very intense, but it can be managed. It is important to seek medical attention if your pain becomes unbearable, especially after unusual exercise or activity.
Anti-inflammatory medications can help reduce both pain and swelling. These can be found in a variety of over-the-counter pills, such as tramadol, ibuprofen and naproxen sodium.
Maintain a Healthy Diet
- Keeping a healthy diet helps manage pain and inflammation, as well as preventing further damage.
- This includes eating a variety of foods that contain antioxidants, which prevent the chemical reactions that lead to joint and tissue damage.
- A healthy diet also helps keep weight down, which reduces the stress on joints. This is important because even slight changes in body weight can overstress a knee or hip joint.
- It is also helpful to sit when possible, to avoid over-stressing these joint areas.
- Eating whole grains, fruits, and vegetables is essential, and avoiding foods that are high in sugar or saturated fat, may increase inflammation.
- It is also recommended to get enough calcium and vitamin D, as this can help slow the progression of RA symptoms.
- Some people find that eating certain foods makes their arthritis worse, such as nightshade vegetables (tomatoes, potatoes, eggplant, and paprika).
- There is no evidence that these foods are linked to RA symptoms, but it is worth talking to your doctor if these foods make your arthritis pain and swelling worse.
- If you suffer from arthritis, staying hydrated is vital. An article published in the British Medical Bulletin explains that dehydration can exacerbate your joint pain because your body struggles to produce enough synovial fluid, which helps reduce friction between your bones.
- Insufficient water intake also decreases the lubrication of cartilage — the tissue that covers the ends of your bones and allows them to glide over each other without rubbing together.
- Getting adequate amounts of fluid can help alleviate your arthritis pain because it can stimulate our bodies’ production of synovial fluid, which helps lubricate cartilage and reduces inflammation around the joints, according to an article published in Nutrients.
- Additionally, consuming fluids rich in nutrients such as bone broth or tart cherry juice can also have beneficial effects on arthritis pain relief.
- For those who struggle to drink enough water, Dorsey suggests setting a daily hydration goal, like drinking 91 ounces of water for women or 125 ounces for men.
Hot and Cold Therapy
- Many people find relief from pain and stiffness by alternating hot and cold therapy. Heat enlarges blood vessels and stimulates circulation, while cold restricts blood flow and reduces swelling, numbs pain, and soothes the muscles.
- It also helps relieve the muscle spasms that can be so characteristic of arthritic pain.
- Try a hot shower or bath, a heating pad (protect skin with a cloth buffer), a warm water bottle, or a microwaveable moist heat pack (make one from a washcloth placed in a freezer bag and a bit of water and then heated in the microwave).
- Avoid keeping the heat on for more than 20 minutes, as it can burn the skin.
- Ice packs can also be helpful, although it is best to only use them during an acute flare, Maggiore says.
- When an inflammatory flare hits, a cool compress can help lower joint temperatures and ease the pain that accompanies it.
- Ice also numbs the area and reduces inflammation, which can decrease tenderness and pain.
- Alternating between the two can provide the most benefit for those experiencing arthritis pain.
Exercise might be the last thing on your mind when you’re experiencing arthritis pain, but regular low-impact activity can significantly improve your symptoms.
- Exercise strengthens muscles that support joints and reduces stress on painful areas. Exercise can also help you manage weight, which may ease the burden on your joints.
- For people with inflammatory arthritis, such as rheumatoid arthritis, gout and lupus, exercise is especially important for maintaining good muscle mass and preventing joint stiffness and swelling
- . Exercise is also a powerful mood enhancer and can help you sleep better.
- When starting a new exercise program, it’s best to start slow and easy, and gradually build up your fitness level.
- Remember to warm up before exercise, and cool down afterward to prevent overuse injuries.
- Try to do activities that work a variety of muscles, such as walking, gardening, raking, dancing or swimming. You can also use household chores as a way to exercise, such as vacuuming or washing the car.
- Using hand-held weights or resistance bands can strengthen weaker muscles, while a supervised strength training program may be beneficial for those with arthritis.
In addition to the prescription medications that you may be taking, herbal remedies can be a great supplement to your arthritis treatment plan. Depending on what you use, however, you will need to do your research carefully and talk to your doctor to avoid any negative side effects.
- Turmeric (Curcuma longa) has demonstrated its effectiveness as an anti-inflammatory agent, but it can also induce stomach upset. Therefore, it is advisable to consume it in small doses.
- Other herbs that ease arthritis pain include borage seed oil, which contains gamma linoleic acid (GLA), known for its anti-inflammatory properties, and feverfew, a night-blooming U.S. native flower proven to alleviate migraine headaches and premenstrual syndrome.
- Eucalyptus oil, which one can apply to the skin or inhale, serves as a pain-relief remedy.
- Supplements that reduce inflammation and alleviate joint stiffness include omega-3 fish oils, renowned for their natural anti-inflammatory properties, and glucosamine and chondroitin, naturally occurring substances in cartilage.
- Omega-3 can be found in fatty fish, walnuts, flax seeds, and vegetable oils, while chondroitin is present in various plants, including yams, pineapple, chickpeas, and artichokes.
Many mind-body techniques trigger the relaxation response, which can reduce anxiety and the perception of pain. Meditation, deep breathing and yoga are good examples of these approaches.
- Using visualization techniques, like guided imagery, to imagine doing activities you enjoy can also help.
- This can include imagining yourself running through a field of flowers, golfing on a beautiful course, swimming in a lake or engaging in your favorite hobby without the pain or discomfort distracting you.
- Mindfulness meditation, which involves focusing objectively on negative thoughts, concentrating on the breath, or repeating a word to quiet the mind, has demonstrated its ability to reduce pain and enhance the quality of life.
- Therapeutic eurythmy is another mind-body therapy that has shown effectiveness in decreasing pain and improving overall well-being.
- Yoga, in particular, has been proven to enhance posture, flexibility, and strength, while also reducing pain.
- While medications are an important part of treating arthritis, it’s important to consider home remedies and other natural treatments.
- These may include eating a healthy diet, taking supplements and herbal remedies, and trying body-based treatments such as yoga, massage therapy, and acupuncture.
A massage may seem like a luxury, but studies have shown that it can be a valuable therapy for people with arthritis. In particular, rheumatoid arthritis sufferers can benefit from regular massage because of the inflammation and extra swelling that is often associated with this condition. These painful symptoms limit movement and decrease flexibility and grip strength, which can make it difficult to carry out everyday tasks.
- Moderate pressure during a massage stimulates nerves under the skin and sends pain-reducing signals to the brain.
- It also helps break down scar tissue, which can hinder joint mobility and flexibility. Moreover, the boost in blood flow improves lubrication between joints and leaves the body feeling energized.
- Before you get a massage, be sure to communicate with your therapist about your specific pain issues.
- It’s important to let them know which areas hurt so that they can tailor the massage to your needs.
- Additionally, you should drink plenty of water before your appointment to avoid dehydration, which can be a problem for some patients.
Unlike many prescription drugs that have significant side effects, acupuncture is a safe treatment. Although it has a history of transmitting disease through re-used needles, these days only disposable needles are used and strict rules are followed to prevent cross contamination. In fact, it has a low risk profile and can be a valuable supplement to other pain management techniques like herbal supplements and physical therapy.
- Acupuncture involves stimulating specific acupoints in the body to help improve your overall health and well-being.
- It is based on the ancient Chinese medicine belief that your energy, called “qi,” or life force, controls the workings of your body. When qi is out of balance, you experience disease.
- Many recognize acupuncture as an effective method for alleviating pain in certain conditions, such as osteoarthritis, headaches (including migraines), post-surgery or chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting, and seasonal allergies.
- At Jersey Integrative Health and Wellness, in Pompton Plains and Jersey City, New Jersey, we offer acupuncture for arthritis, along with other natural treatments that can help you feel your best.