Arthritis is an umbrella term that covers several conditions, affecting the joints. The classic signs and symptoms of arthritis include pain, swelling, and inflammation.
Unfortunately, the symptoms will only worsen over time, especially if no treatment is adopted. While you can control the symptoms with pharmacological drugs, their side effects may lead to severe complications. Therefore, it is better to look for natural ways to dampen the inflammation.
Primarily, there are two types of arthritis, which are rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and osteoarthritis (OA). The first condition is an autoimmune disease that causes the immune cells to attack healthy joint tissues. As for osteoarthritis, it is a wear and tear process that gradually breaks down the articular tissues.
In this article, we will cover a few ways to naturally manage arthritis pain, inflammation, and swelling.
Top 5 natural ways to manage arthritis
1. Manage your weight
A high body mass index (BMI) is a worsening factor of arthritic pain. If you are overweight, the extra pounds will place more pressure on your joints, leading to severe pain and inflammation. The most susceptible joints to this issue are the hips, knees, and feet.
According to the American College of Rheumatology and Arthritis Foundation (ACR/AF), people with arthritis should attempt to lose weight in order to relieve their symptoms. Make sure to speak with your primary care physician or nutritionist to lose weight in a personalized manner.
By losing weight, you will be able to:
- Improve your mobility
- Prevent arthritic damage
- Relieve pain
2. Exercise more often
Exercise helps arthritis in various ways, including:
- The management of your weight
- Keeping your joints flexible
- Reinforce the muscles surrounding the joints
According to the latest guidelines, we recommend starting a fitness program. Ideally, you would exercise with a personal trainer or just a friend.
If you don’t want to lift weights, here are some low-impact exercises:
- Tai chi
- Water sports
3. Use hot and cold therapy
Hot compresses (heat therapy)
Hot compresses use the principle of thermotherapy to address pain. By heating the area of injury, blood vessels will expand, improving circulation to the joints and muscles. Consequently, prostaglandins and other pain-causing compounds will get flushed away.
Hot compresses also induce muscle relaxation and reduce joint stiffness, which is useful for arthritis.
Cold compresses (cold therapy)
Cold compress is a cryotherapy method that uses low temperatures to treat pain. While thermotherapy accelerates blood circulation around the site of injury to accelerate healing, cold compresses produce the opposite effect – They slow everything down.
You may notice that the medical team of professional sports players applies cold compresses whenever a player is injured. The purpose is to stop the pain and decrease the swelling.
Avoid using cold packs and ice massages directly on your skin to avoid damage. Ideally, you would place a thin towel on the site of pain, then apply cold compresses.
Which one is better for joint pain?
There are multiple studies that support the effectiveness of cold and hot compresses in treating pain. However, which one should you choose?
You may expect the answer to be simple. Unfortunately, that’s not the case. After analyzing the effects of heat therapy and cold therapy in relieving pain, swelling, and stiffness, the results were often mixed.
One thing you should keep in mind is the source of your pain. When your pain is the result of rheumatoid arthritis, cold compresses may be a better option for you. Conversely, osteoarthritis may benefit more from hot compresses.
In summary, both treatments are very effective in the management of acute and chronic pain. They work rapidly and cause no side effects. Make sure to speak with your primary care physician about the best treatment for your specific case.
With that said, it wouldn’t hurt to try both treatments and see what works best for you.
4. Try acupuncture
Acupuncture is a natural treatment that revolves around inserting thin needles into the skin. Some theories state that acupuncture reroutes energy and restores balance to the joints.
What we know is that it may help with arthritis. This is why the ACR and AF recommend it. Unfortunately, there is not enough evidence to confirm the analgesic effects of acupuncture. The good news is that the risk of side effects is relatively low.
Make sure to work with a licensed acupuncturist to avoid unnecessary complications.
5. Include turmeric in your diet
Turmeric helps patients with pain and inflammation. These compounds act on the prostaglandin receptors, which are found all over the body. Scientists conducted numerous studies and confirmed these results.
For instance, one study concluded that curcumin lowers the concentration of chemokines and cytokines. These are inflammatory molecules that regulate the immune response. More specifically, cytokines are the cornerstone of many diseases, such as arthritis.
Moreover, turmeric increases the activity of T-cell Reg. The latter is an immune cell that regulates the immune reactions and balances inflammation.
6. Consider taking supplements
Herbal supplements can be helpful in reducing joint pain. However, there is no conclusive evidence that supports the superiority of one herb over another.
Here are some herbs with potent analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties:
- Devil’s claw
- Stinging nettle
- Thunder god vine
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not regulate the supplement industry. Therefore, make sure to only purchase your products from reputable sources.
Before you take these supplements, we recommend speaking with your primary care physician for tailored medical advice. This is more important if you are taking any other drugs.
Arthritis is an extremely common condition, affecting millions of people around the world. Learning how to deal with pain and swelling naturally will help you control your symptoms and live a normal life.
We hope that this article helped you understand the importance of natural measures to manage joint pain, inflammation, and swelling.
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If you have any questions, concerns, or personal experiences with the natural ways listed above, please do not hesitate to share your thoughts in the comment section below.