Arthritis affects around 10 million people in the UK. It’s a condition that causes pain and inflammation in a joint and can affect anyone at any age, including children.
The most common types of arthritis are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.
Symptoms can vary depending on the kind of arthritis you have, but generally the most common symptoms include joint pain, tenderness and stiffness, restricted joint movement, and warm red skin over the affected joint.
Doctors have traditionally treated arthritis with a range of anti-inflammatory medications and painkillers – but it’s possible to alleviate the symptoms without taking any drugs at all.
Here are 10 natural ways you can combat the discomfort of arthritis.
Extra weight puts unnecessary pressure on your feet, hips and knees, and can have a significant impact on how much pain you feel with arthritis. Shedding a few pounds will reduce the stress levels on your joints to minimise pain and prevent joint damage, as well as improving your mobility.
Get Plenty of Exercise
Your joints will reap the benefits of regular movement and exercise as it will keep them flexible. Exercises such as walking and running – which add extra weight - can damage your joints. Low-impact exercises such as swimming or aerobics are effective ways of flexing your joints without adding unnecessary stress.
Hot and Cold Therapy
Long warm baths or showers – particularly in the morning – can reduce joint stiffness, and a heating pad or electric blanket will help keep your joints loose. However, when it comes to beating joint pain, cold treatments work best. A towel-wrapped bag of frozen vegetables or a gel ice pack applied to the painful joint will offer quick relief.
An ancient Chinese medical treatment, acupuncture involves inserting needles into specific pressure points in the body which allegedly re-distribute energy sources and restore balance to your body. It’s also believed to be particularly effective at reducing the pain of arthritis. Always use a qualified acupuncturist.
Relaxation and meditation techniques can help reduce stress levels and cope with the pain of arthritis more effectively. Studies by the National Institute of Health (NIH) revealed that mindfulness meditation can help some people suffering from painful joints, and people with arthritis and depression benefitted from meditation most.
Good Fatty Acids
In addition to omega-3 fatty acids being an essential part of a balanced diet, they can help with the pain and discomfort of arthritis. Fish oil can diminish joint pain and stiffness. The fatty acid GLA (gamma-linolenic) found in evening primrose and blackcurrants, is also effective and can be purchased as a supplement.
A Taste of Turmeric
Turmeric - a regular ingredient of Indian cuisine – contains a chemical known as curcumin which has anti-inflammatory properties and can alleviate arthritis pain. Preliminary tests on lab rats reduced joint inflammation, and while human tests are limited, at least you’ll get flavoursome dishes.
Regular massaging of the arthritic joints can ease stiffness and pain as well as improve your motion range and mobility, according to the Arthritis Foundation. You can work with an experienced, professional physical therapist or learn self-massage to ease arthritic pain.
There’s a huge range of herbal supplements available that claim to help ease joint pain. Some of the most commonly used and popular include aloe vera, boswellia, cat’s claw, eucalyptus, ginger and Thunder God Vine. Always check with your GP for side effects before you take any of them.
Microcurrent therapy uses very low-level electrical currents to treat muscle and nerve pain and inflammation through strategically-placed electrodes on the affected area. Because the microcurrents are so weak you don’t feel any shock sensation, and treatment usually involves several sessions which exponentially increase in effectiveness.
At Tower Health, we have a wide range of pain management products in stock designed to help alleviate the symptoms and pain of arthritis.