When it comes to naturally managing arthritis pain, it’s easy to get swept up in the latest trends. But, it’s important to remember that what works for one person might not necessarily work for you.
To avoid making your symptoms worse, be sure to keep these four dos and don’ts in mind when you’re seeking treatment for arthritis pain.
If you’re overweight or obese, you’ll probably experience more intense and frequent bouts of arthritis pain. This is because excess weight often puts excess strain on your joints.
When it comes to managing your weight, it’s important to avoid fad diets and weight loss gimmicks that promise unbelievable results in a short period of time. Instead, work on making small, lasting changes like eating more fruits and vegetables and getting more exercise throughout the day.
Work with your doctor, a health coach, or a personal trainer to come up with a plan that you can stick with.
Topical pain relievers are, generally speaking, preferable to over-the-counter or prescription painkillers. Prescription painkillers can easily become habit-forming, and over-the-counter options like ibuprofen can cause digestive problems like intestinal hyperpermeability when taken in excess .
Topical pain relievers provide targeted relief to sore joints. Look for ones that contain capsaicin, the compound that makes chili peppers spicy. They provide a natural source of heat to relieve pain and inflammation.
In addition to topical painkillers, you can also use natural supplements like glucosamine and chondroitin to relieve your aches and pains .
Glucosamine and chondroitin help ease joint pain — especially in the knees — and may even rebuild damaged cartilage.
Another beneficial supplement is turmeric. Turmeric contains a compound called curcumin, which has been shown to relieve inflammation.
Before you buy any supplements, be sure to do some research and make sure there aren’t any FDA recalls on the products you’re considering.
It’s also important to look for therapeutic treatments that will help you change your behavior and reduce stress to manage your pain. Some good options include:
- Cognitive behavioral therapy
- Relaxation therapy (journaling, meditation, yoga, etc.)
Just as there are many dos that can help manage arthritis symptoms naturally there are also several actions regarded as negative. This actions, some describing medication while other describe lifestyle choices, all have shown potential to make symptoms worse for those suffering from arthritis pain.
Sometimes, you do have to turn to NSAIDs like naproxen or ibuprofen to help with severe pain. But, it’s important to make sure you don’t overdo it with these drugs. Take the lowest dose possible for the shortest period of time. This will help you avoid risks that come with overuse of NSAIDs.
It’s also good to start with an over-the-counter drug like acetaminophen, which has fewer potential side-effects, before turning to NSAIDs.
Smoking negatively impacts blood circulation and puts additional stress on your connective tissue. This will only worsen your joint pain and mobility issues.
If you’re using smoking as a coping tool, it’s important to look for therapeutic alternatives that won’t cause more health problems.
Exercise is essential for people struggling with arthritis pain. Regular movement helps improve mobility and strengthen the muscles and bones. It also can help you manage your weight to minimize joint stress and pain.
That being said, it’s important to avoid certain types of exercise, which can do more harm than good. Exercises that involve high-impact or repetitive movements are not ideal for people with arthritis. Examples of these types of exercises include:
- High-impact aerobics
Instead, try low-impact, weight-bearing exercises like walking, swimming, and cycling. Resistance training, with instruction from a qualified trainer, is also helpful.
Finally, be sure to pay attention to the way you think and talk about your situation. Maintaining a positive perspective can be hard—really hard—when facing the pain of chronic illness. While you may not always be able to pull off smiles and sunshine, making that your daily goal can be beneficial. Sometimes, all it takes to start the momentum is a smile.
When you’re dealing with a condition like arthritis, it’s easy to let your limitations get the better of you. Rather than focusing on the things you can’t do or all the changes you have to make, it’s important to remember all the positive aspects of your life.
If this is hard for you, start by keeping these dos and don’ts in mind. Spend time with people you love, too, and work on finding new hobbies that make you feel happy and fulfilled.
- Sigthorsson, G, et al. “Intestinal Permeability and Inflammation in Patients on NSAIDs.” Gut, U.S. National Library of Medicine, Oct. 1998, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1727292/.
- Hess, Alex. “Chondroitin Sulfate and Glucosamine Supplements in Osteoarthritis.” Www.arthritis.org, www.arthritis.org/living-with-arthritis/treatments/natural/supplements-herbs/glucosamine-chondroitin-osteoarthritis.php.