9 Proven Remedies to Alleviate Arthritis Symptoms

Although arthritis is not curable, there are numerous ways to manage the condition. Treatment plans focus on relieving pain, reducing damage to the joints, preventing further progression of the disease, and allowing individuals to remain as physically active as possible. Depending on the type of arthritis, different therapies are used to achieve these goals.

Treating arthritis may require changing your prescription medications, making dietary modifications, using joint injections, undergoing surgeries, and more. Your treatment plan may need to be adapted as time passes, and it is likely you will need to use multiple therapies.

If you have osteoarthritis, you might wish to look into trying out alternative and complementary therapies. Many of these can be done in the comfort of your own home and may help reduce soreness, improve your range of motion, and make daily activities easier. Generally speaking, those with osteoarthritis are deemed safe to try out the treatments discussed here.

It is advisable to speak to a doctor before beginning any treatment, even if no prescription is needed. A physician can provide advice to understand the benefits and minimize any potential risks, taking into account the individual’s particular context.

Understanding the Nature of Arthritis?

Arthritis is a term used to describe a group of over 100 chronic diseases that affect joints, bones, and muscles. It is characterized by inflammation and pain in the affected areas, which can lead to difficulty in performing everyday activities. The most common forms of arthritis are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. Osteoarthritis is a degenerative disease that occurs due to wear and tear on the joints over time, while rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disorder where the body’s immune system attacks its own joints. Other forms of arthritis include gout, lupus, and fibromyalgia.

Arthritis can affect people of all ages, including children, and is more common in older adults. It is often accompanied by other symptoms such as swelling, stiffness, and fatigue. The severity of arthritis can vary greatly, with some people experiencing only occasional pain, while others may experience constant, severe pain that severely impacts their quality of life.

Relief from Arthritis Aches: What Treatments are Available?

1. Injections

Injections of corticosteroids can provide respite from the pain related to arthritis. Such treatments can only be obtained with a prescription and should be administered by a physician. Prednisone and cortisone are the two most commonly used steroids in these injections. Usually, these injections are combined with other treatments, such as oral medications.

2. Find Relief Through Meditation

Meditating and using relaxation methods can help you cope with the discomfort of arthritis better, by decreasing stress and improving your capacity to manage it. Tai chi or yoga can be great options, blending low-intensity exercises with breathing exercises, relaxation, and meditation. According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), research has indicated that certain RA patients may benefit from mindfulness meditation. Anxiety, worry, and depression are often linked to illnesses that cause chronic pain like arthritis, and meditation can be useful in reducing these emotions.

3. Get Relief Now: Over-the-counter Pain-relievers

Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), like Aleve (naproxen), aspirin, and Advil, as well as Tylenol (acetaminophen) (ibuprofen), are commonly used to treat arthritis. A 2012 study published in The Open Rheumatology Journal found that acetaminophen is generally safe for long-term use and may be used in combination with other prescription drugs. However, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) cautions that NSAIDs can cause gastrointestinal bleeding and kidney damage in some cases. The researchers also noted that, while NSAIDs can help alleviate arthritis flare-ups, large doses and prolonged use can be detrimental.

Robert T. Keenan, a rheumatologist at Duke University, recommends acetaminophen as the first-line of defense against osteoarthritis. This medication is believed to be relatively safe when administered in the recommended dosage (3 grams per day) and when there are no contraindications. Furthermore, Dr. Keenan states that acetaminophen works best when taken before the onset of pain and is helpful in preventing the pain associated with more strenuous activity.

Non-aspirin NSAIDs can increase a person’s chances of having a heart attack or stroke, and the FDA made an announcement in July 2015 that these risks are greater than previously thought. Reports suggest that the risk can become a reality within the first week of taking the medication, with the danger becoming more pronounced with higher doses and longer use. (Those with pre-existing heart disease or those who are more likely to get it in the future are more at risk). To this effect, the FDA has mandated that drug manufacturers include warnings on the labels.

4. Deciding on Hot or Cold Therapy

Heat therapy can be used to help reduce discomfort in sore muscles and stiff joints. As the temperature rises, the blood vessels expand, allowing for an increased supply of oxygen and blood flow in the affected area. This increased circulation can help reduce the pain, providing relief.

If a flare is happening, patients should avoid heat therapy. Cold therapy may be suggested for sudden swelling since it reduces blood flow and inflammation. To ease joint discomfort, people can try alternating heat and cold therapies, with a few hours in between sessions. Heating pads can be used for 20 minutes at a time, or a warm, steamy shower or bath can also act as heat therapy.

5. Exploring Acupuncture: A Natural Alternative

The traditional medical practice of Acupuncture is grounded in the notion that the human body holds patterns of energy flow referred to as qi. Pain is thought to be caused by a disruption of this energy flow. Acupuncturists aim to restore the qi by introducing small needles into specific spots. Studies have found that Acupuncture might be useful in alleviating pain from osteoarthritis, particularly that of the knee, even if the qi theory has not been validated. This procedure is generally considered quite safe and may even be covered by insurance.

Further research is needed to gain a complete understanding of how Acupuncture could help with osteoarthritis as the current evidence gathered from studies is limited and not of the best quality. It may be worth trying it out and assessing the results for yourself, just like any other non-surgical treatment. It is suggested to make a decision after a few sessions. It is recommended to work with a Licensed Acupuncturist (LAc) who has been certified by the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine.

6. Lose Weight, Feel Great

Carrying too much weight may put added stress on your joints and aggravate arthritis symptoms. To reduce the strain on painful joints and lessen the pain, it is important to reach and maintain a healthy weight. To do so, it is recommended to reduce the calorie count of your diet while ensuring it contains plenty of nutrients, alongside increasing your physical activity. If you are unsure how to adjust your diet safely, you should consult a doctor for advice.

7. Eat Healthy and Maintain Balance

Eating a wide range of whole foods, fresh produce, and fruits can boost your immune system and enhance your overall wellbeing. It appears that people with RA and OA may be influenced by their dietary habits. Antioxidants, which occur in a plant-based diet, can help the body eliminate free radicals, thus reducing swelling.

On the flip side, a diet full of red meat, processed food, saturated fat, added sugar, and salt may worsen arthritis symptoms. Not only is this type of diet potentially dangerous, but it can also lead to other health issues like obesity, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, heart disease, and more. Even though consuming food high in vitamin D and fish oil may boost general health, according to OA guidelines, it is not recommended as a treatment.

8. Harnessing the Power of Physical Therapy for Arthritis Treatment

Physical therapy is a recommended approach for reducing the discomfort of arthritis. It can help expand the range of motion, reduce joint stiffness, and strengthen the muscles that support the affected joints. It’s an excellent place to begin improving mobility without having to resort to surgery or medications, as Keenan mentions.

A 2014 study published in the Cochrane Database of Systemic Reviews revealed that physical therapy exercises can help those with hip osteoarthritis reduce pain and improve physical function. Workshops can teach you the proper ways to do the stretches and movements. It is important to note that physical therapy may not be beneficial for everyone, although it can offer great benefits to those living with arthritis. If it is suggested as part of your treatment, it is recommended to try physical therapy for a minimum of three to six months. If you don’t see any improvement in that time frame, then physical therapy might not be the right course of action for your particular case of arthritis.

9. Exploring Surgical Options: What You Should Know

If the symptoms of arthritis are particularly severe and the therapies mentioned above do not help, your doctor may suggest surgery as an option. Not all patients are eligible for joint replacement surgery, although it can help restore mobility and reduce pain. Common joint replacement operations include knee, hip, and elbow replacements. Furthermore, physical rehabilitation is necessary after undergoing joint replacement.

Taking on Arthritis: Living with the Condition

Although there is no known cure for arthritis, it is important to maintain joint functioning to reduce pain and swelling. Speak with your healthcare provider to develop a treatment plan that includes medication and therapy. Making changes to your lifestyle may improve your overall quality of life, and stress management has been found to alleviate arthritis-related discomfort and rigidity. Research has indicated that psychological stress can lead to flares and recurrences of the condition.