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. You should always consult with your own doctor about the potential ramifications of any lifestyle or dietary change.
Arthritis is a condition that is still not fully understood. One clear understanding is that there is a strong component of inflammation and joint deterioration in most cases. This may present as stiffness, tenderness, reduced range of motion, or several other common symptoms. Only your doctor will be able to assess your unique issues. With that in mind, there are several things that are commonly regarded to have an impact on many different kinds of arthritis. Some offer much-needed relief while others have been shown to make things worse. Below y
The following actions have all been shown to offer some benefit to those suffering from arthritis. There’s no way to know which of these might be beneficial to you, so discuss them all with your doctor before implementing them. What works for one … you’ve probably heard the rest a million times! It’s only cliche` because it’s so true.
Manage Your Weight
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
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 (R).
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.
Supplements & Dietary Changes
In addition to topical painkillers, you can also use natural supplements like glucosamine and chondroitin to relieve your aches and pains. These types of cartilage and joint-supporting compounds have demonstrated many positive benefits for arthritic conditions. Specifically, glucosamine and chondroitin help ease joint pain — especially in the knees — and may even rebuild damaged cartilage (R).
Another beneficial supplement is turmeric, which 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 and that you’re buying from reputable supplement brands.
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 potentially beneficial actions one can take to help improve symptoms of arthritis, 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.
Taking Too Many NSAIDs
Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory drugs have become quite common in our modern society. These are OTC medications like Ibuprofen that are often prescribed to help reduce minor swelling and pain. It’s important to make sure you don’t overdo it with these drugs (R). Don’t take these compounds any longer than recommended by your doctor, and express to them your concern for their overuse among those with your condition. Ask them their opinion on your starting out with a non-NSAID such as acetaminophen (Tylenol) before jumping straight to an NSAID. They’ll be able to determine the appropriateness of such a substitute in your case and, if they can’t, find a new doctor!
We’ll not beat a dead horse here—smoking isn’t just not good for your health, it’s actively bad for it. Just to be clear, we’re talking about cigarettes and tobacco, not other compounds with a medicinal application such as marijuana. There are some odd arguments for times that tobacco or nicotine could have some benefit but even those benefits are outweighed by the negatives.
For example, nicotine has been shown to demonstrate wide-spectrum anti-bacterial action against a host of different bacterial species (R). Smoking to help fight a bacterial infection would be a bit like huffing paint to relax; sure, it’ll help in the short-term but it’ll eventually kill you. If you’re still smoking, and living with arthritic pain, now’s the time to finally quit. You don’t even need to check with your doctor on this one!
Perform Joint-Strengthening Exercises
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 which will, in turn, reduce overall joint stress.
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
Negative Perspectives & Stress
It sounds almost escapist to attribute the severity of a health condition to one’s mental attitude. Nonetheless, modern researchers have discovered a strong connection between healing, the progression of a disease, and recovery times to the mental attitude of patients (R). Posing an argument to one suffering from arthritis that they’ll improve if they simply have a positive attitude about it is a bit obtuse. Rather, we’ll just say that research has proven that one’s mental attitude can have a tremendous impact on one’s physical and mental health. Just meditate on it.
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.