Natural Remedies for Arthritis
Arthritis is an all-too-common ailment affecting people of all ages, races, genders, and medical backgrounds. In total, it’s estimated that 50 million adults and 300,000 children in the United States alone suffer from the ailment. In this article, we’ll uncover the basics of just what arthritis is and why it occurs. We’ll also cover the types of arthritis, the various symptoms that come with each, and natural remedies that can help mitigate symptoms and improve quality of life, even for those not on prescription arthritis medications.
What is Arthritis?
We likely know someone who suffers from arthritis, or perhaps we live with it ourselves. But what exactly is the condition, and why does it occur? Before we can dig into the natural remedies available, it’s important to understand what’s happening in the body.
In the most basic terms, arthritis is a condition that causes inflammation and pain in the body. The term arthritis does not point to just one disease or ailment. Instead, it refers to a broad category of symptoms and types of the disease. There are over 100 types, in fact, that can affect both men, women, and children. The symptoms can be chronic and long-term or only temporary. Arthritis can even cover all areas of the body, from the hands or knees to internal organs such as the heart or kidneys.
Common Types of Arthritis and Symptoms
The primary two categories of arthritis are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis, which is perhaps the more commonly known term.
Osteoarthritis is caused by a wearing down of the cartilage, which causes the bones to rub together. Over time, this friction produces pain and inflammation.
In cases of rheumatoid arthritis, an autoimmune condition is the culprit behind the pain and inflammation. The body’s immune system, designed to fight outside invaders and keep the body healthy, misidentifies healthy joint tissue as the enemy and attacks itself.
Symptoms for arthritis, in general, can include:
- Stiffness of the joints
- Pain in various parts of the body
- Decreased range of motion
Like many diseases, a range of treatment options exists for managing and treating arthritis conditions. Don’t hesitate to seek out expert advice from a medical professional to help devise a plan that’s right for you. While you can take prescription drugs, there are many natural remedies for arthritis that can also provide relief. These include:
Managing Your Weight
Arthritis is a condition of inflammation, pressure, and pain on the joints. Therefore, managing your weight can help to improve pain levels from arthritis naturally. However, losing weight is not a cure-all. Under the guidance of a trusted medical professional, you will need to do so using sustainable, gradual approaches that allow you to keep it off and do healthily. Many do experience less pain once they’ve lost weight. Plus, there's also a feeling of less burden on joints and bones, specifically the hips, knees, and feet.
This traditional Chinese medicine treatment involves inserting very thin needles into strategic points of the body to correct and reroute the energy flow in the body. It’s used to treat a variety of ailments. Acupuncture has a long history of successfully treating and improving pain in those with arthritis.
There isn’t much hard science at this point to back up the anecdotal claims. However, some studies show that acupuncture can help lessen inflammatory chemicals throughout the body, so it makes sense that it could improve overall arthritis pain. If you find a qualified practitioner, ideally one experienced specifically in treating arthritis patients, there’s essentially no downside to giving this natural remedy a try.
Meditation and Visualization
Don’t underestimate or discount the power of the mind. The link between the physical body and the brain is a gray area that science is only just starting to understand. Acts like meditation can go a very long way in pain management. Practices like deep breathing, guided meditation, and yoga can help mitigate stress, which can ease the body and help you cope and relax.
Moving Your Body
If your body is sore and painful, a workout might feel like the last thing you want to do. Yet, moving your body is an excellent natural remedy for improving arthritis. There’s no need to sling weights around or go hard at the gym. Try lower impacts styles of movement such as yoga, tai chi, or swimming, which have a very low impact on your joints. Try working your way up to several sessions per week, as consistency and regularity will be key with exercise.
Staying active, however, feels good and can go a long way in lessening the pain and stiffness and preventing worsening symptoms in the future.
Eat a Plant Rich Diet
You may not think what you put on your plate has anything to do with your arthritis, but watching what you eat can absolutely be a natural remedy. Specifically, studies point to eating a diet high in plant-based foods and low in animal products can be very beneficial.
This is because animal foods such as meat and dairy, which make up much of a traditional Western diet, are inflammatory and can contribute to the pain. They’ve also been linked to higher rates of diseases like heart disease, high blood pressure, cancer, and more.
You don’t have to go vegan, but going in a more plant-based direction can undoubtedly help. Adding in supplements like vitamin D and omega-3 can also be helpful.
Hot and Cold Therapy
A quick, painless, and cheap natural remedy for treating arthritis is using hot and cold therapy, one at a time or alternating. A heating pad or even a rice-filled sock monkey can ease stiffness and soothe joints, while an ice pack can lessen inflammation.
With both heat and cold, go easy and take breaks — more is not more. Don’t stay in a hot tub for too long, and never keep ice packs directly on the skin.
As with any treatment option for a medical condition, it’s wise to do your own research and talk to a trusted doctor before making any changes to your arthritis treatment plan or adding any of these approaches into your lifestyle. These natural remedies, either on their own or combined with prescription medications, can play a huge role in helping arthritis patients manage symptoms and live as healthily and with as little pain as possible.