Last updated January 21, 2019
Inflammation is the culprit behind a surprising number of diseases, including various forms of arthritis. Just about anything in your body can become inflamed. Most people still associate inflammation with joint pain and muscle injuries, but inflammation can crop up in your digestive system, your heart, and even in your brain. Thankfully, there are natural remedies for arthritis pain that can act as both prevention and treatment tools.
Inflammation can be localized to a specific spot or it can be spread out. It can affect large organs and the tiniest cells. It’s no wonder that inflammation can lead to health problems like diabetes, inflammatory bowel disease, and arthritis.
And if you’re looking for a way to stop inflammation from contributing to adverse health issues in your life, we’ve even explored herbal remedies for arthritis in previous articles.
A Blood Test for Predicting Arthritis Risk
Recent studies in the battle against arthritis have been eventful. Scientists can now predict one’s chances of suffering from rheumatoid arthritis approximately 20 years before the condition starts to take effect.
One blood test, where doctors test antibodies that recognize a protein called tenascin-C, is able to accurately detect the predisposition to rheumatoid arthritis in 50% of patients—with a 98% accuracy rate.
In previous studies, Japanese researchers looked into the role of olives, citrus fruits, grapes, and green tea for their inflammation-reducing abilities. They noted that one particular substance, a cytokine called “tumor necrosis factor,” played a pivotal role in the development of chronic inflammatory diseases. Their research shows that the intake of polyphenols contained in the following natural sources can effectively help shut down tumor necrosis factors. The polyphenols target mechanisms that set inflammation in motion and reduce an individual’s chances of suffering from joint pain and long-term illnesses:
- Hydroxytyrosol, tyrosol, and oleuropein (found in olives)
- Naringin and hesperidin (found in citrus fruits)
- Resveratrol, procyanidins, and oligomeric procyanidins (found in grapes or grape-seed extract)
- Epigallocatechin gallate (found in green tea)
- Quercetin (found in grapes, green tea)
These special substances are able to modulate the symptoms of type 2 diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, and inflammatory bowel disease. This could translate into more pain relief for you!
Natural Remedies for Arthritis Pain
Arthritis can seriously impact one’s life. Joint inflammation can become so debilitating that it can prevent one from moving, staying active, or working. Close to 30 million Americans suffer from osteoarthritis alone.
The good news is that there are many natural treatments for rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis. These treatments include natural remedies that can fight the inflammation caused by arthritis. This is beneficial considering the side effects of prescribed and over-the-counter medications. Natural remedies for arthritis include:
- Exercise: Exercising more regularly can help people lose weight and reduce the amount of stress on the joints. Exercising also helps keep the joints flexible and strengthens the muscles. It’s better to do low-impact exercises like swimming if you already suffer from arthritis.Most forms of exercise will offer benefits for arthritis, including aerobics, strength training, mobility, and balance. A program featuring each type of these exercises is best because they all serve a different purpose. Aerobics like swimming help to keep your heart pumping blood efficiently. Strength training helps build and maintain strong joints, range-of-motion exercises help joints move as they should, and balance exercises help you reduce the risk of falls. Exercise for arthritis is one of the best tools to keep you moving well.If you’ve got localized arthritis in your hands, performing movements to keep joints limber may help. You can try slowly extending the fingers and bringing them into a fist before repeating; bending fingers slowly and carefully before re-extending; and placing your hand flat on a surface and slowly lifting each finger off the surface, holding it for three to five seconds. Repeat each exercise several times for each hand.
- Ginger tea and turmeric: Both of these are well-known anti-inflammatory foods. Turmeric has become popular recently because it contains a powerful antioxidant called curcumin. Either of these foods can be mixed in tea or swallowed in pill form.
- Magnesium: Adding magnesium supplements into your diet relieves stiffness by relaxing muscles and nerve endings. Studies have also shown magnesium to strengthen bones and improve bone density.
- Soak in Epsom salts: Epsom salts contain high levels of magnesium. We’ve just detailed how magnesium plays a role in fighting arthritis; soaking your body in Epsom salts is one way for your body to get the magnesium it needs.
- Massages: Getting regular massages is a great way to loosen up your joints and relax your muscles. It’s best to work with a professional to maximize the effectiveness.
- Acupuncture: This is still a bit controversial, but people suffering from arthritis have seen a reduction in pain when turning to acupuncture. The treatment is said to restore the balance the body needs. It is advisable to use an acupuncturist who is experienced.Acupuncture is the practice of inserting very fine needles into specified points on the body, which may reduce inflammation. There are differing opinions on how it may work, but the traditional belief is that the needles stimulate energy along pathways called “meridians.” When the meridians are opened, energy, or qi (pronounced “chee”), becomes balanced and flows through the body unobstructed. Regardless of exactly how it works, it seems using acupuncture for arthritis can produce positive results.
- Glucosamine: Glucosamine has been proven in some studies to reduce arthritis pain; however, only glucosamine sulfate is thought to be effective, not glucosamine hydrochloride.
- Heat and ice treatment:Recommended by many doctors, heat and cold therapy may help combat rheumatoid arthritis symptoms in a couple of ways. Cold compresses can help reduce swelling and inflammation. Apply an ice pack to the affected area for 15 minutes at a time before taking a 30-minute break. Heat, on the other hand, relaxes muscles and encourages blood flow. You can use a microwaveable heating pack; a warm, moist towel; or even sit in a warm bath or hot tub.
- Splinting technique: Splinting is a technique that involves using a brace—or splint—over your entire hand or specific fingers. They can hold your wrist/finger joints in a fixed position, and the stillness may reduce the chance of pain.
- Meditation: Meditation may help some individuals cope with pain. When pain hits, try to focus on breathing, paying careful attention to each inhale and exhale. When your mind wanders, revert it back to your breath. As you become better at meditating, you should be able to come into a meditative state when needed, hopefully leading to reductions in arthritic pain.
- Yoga: Studies have shown yoga can help reduce stress and inflammation, while aiding joint pain and increasing mobility. It could be a very valuable addition to your arthritis treatment routine. If you plan to use yoga for arthritis, do so under the care of a specialist at first.
- Capsaicin creams: Capsaicin, which is the active compound in cayenne pepper, can be a useful analgesic. You can make a capsaicin cream at home by adding a few sprinkles of cayenne pepper to two or three teaspoons of olive oil and rubbing it on the affected area. There may be a slight tingle, but this is nothing to worry about. Do not apply capsaicin cream to areas with broken skin, and avoid touching around your eyes and mouth until you’ve thoroughly washed your hands.
There are many natural remedies to treat pain and inflammation from arthritis. From olive oil to fatty acids, arthritis sufferers have tried many ways to alleviate their pain! Even when taking natural products, it’s still important to consult with a doctor.
Lifestyle Changes to Help Treat Arthritis Pain
We’ve already spoken about exercise and how vital it is to alleviating and preventing arthritis, but there are a few other factors to keep in mind:
- Healthy diet: Along with exercise, follow a healthy diet that includes low-fat, low-carb foods. Speak with your doctor about a healthy nutrition plan.
- Proper sleep: Aim for seven to nine hours of sleep each night. If necessary, take short naps during the day.
Natural Remedies for Arthritis
Arthritis is a painful condition that can substantially reduce your quality of life. Maintaining an active lifestyle may help reduce symptoms, as can a number of home remedies. Incorporating lifestyle techniques like exercise and yoga may help improve circulation and mobility and prevent arthritis, while supplementation, hot and cold treatments, and more may help silence the severity of flare-ups.
Sources for Today’s Article:
Goodall, C., “14 Home Remedies for Arthritis & Joint Pain,”EverydayRoots; http://everydayroots.com/arthritis-remedies, last accessed December 29, 2015.
“13 Natural Remedies for Arthritis,” Health.com; http://www.health.com/health/gallery/0,,20443624_6,00.html, last accessed December 29, 2015.
“Exercise helps ease arthritis pain and stiffness,” Mayo Clinic, February 14, 2013; http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/arthritis/in-depth/arthritis/art-20047971.
Rodriguez, D., “Lifestyle Changes to Manage Arthritis Pain,” Everyday Health, October 9, 2014; http://www.everydayhealth.com/arthritis/taking-control-of-arthritis.aspx.
Ambardekar, N., “Natural Remedies for Rheumatoid Arthritis Pain Relief,” WebMD, April 3, 2018; https://www.webmd.com/rheumatoid-arthritis/guide/rheumatoid-arthritis-natural-treatments#1-2, last accessed January 10, 2019.
Nail, R., “How do you manage arthritis in hands?” Medical News Today, November 9, 2017; https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/319955.php, last accessed January 10, 2019.