9 ways to relieve pain naturally from arthritis
Easing the pain of arthritis: What solutions are there beyond medication?
Living with arthritis can leave those diagnosed with the condition to experience a range of symptoms, with pain often affecting most. A condition that involves pain and inflammation of the joints, arthritis can significantly impact the quality of life of someone with the disease. Finding ways to ease the discomfort associated with arthritis can make the condition more manageable.
There are two main types of arthritis that can affect people diagnosed. The first, osteoarthritis, causes the breakdown of cartilage due to the wear and tear of the joint, resulting in bones rubbing together causing friction, damage and ultimately inflammation that causes the pain associated with arthritis. Osteoarthritis affects around 9 million people in the UK.
The second most common type is rheumatoid arthritis, an autoimmune-based condition that occurs when a person’s immune system accidentally attacks healthy joint tissue, resulting in pain and swelling.
Rheumatoid arthritis affects around 400,000 people in the UK, and women are three times more likely to be diagnosed.
While there’s no cure for arthritis, doctors can offer treatments that can help manage and slow down the progress of the condition. However, there are also steps you can take to support the management of arthritis pain to minimise the effects of inflammation naturally.
- Increase your exercise
We all know the health benefits of exercise and the positive impact more movement in our day can have. It’s recommended to work with your doctor or a health expert to design a programme of exercises that will help reduce the impact of your arthritis symptoms. Low-impact exercises are a great place to start, as they will help to promote movement of the joints without added stress. Walking, gentle cycling, tai chi, yoga, and water-based exercises are all suitable.
- Manage your weight
Carrying extra weight can cause increased strain on your joints, adding to the pain and inflammation you may experience with arthritis. One way to relieve pain naturally is by maintaining a healthy weight. If you are overweight or obese, losing excess weight can relieve pressure on your joints. Positive impacts of managing a healthy weight can include improved mobility, decreased pain, and may help reduce further damage to your joints.
- Anti-inflammatory diet
There is evidence that what you eat can impact the inflammatory response in the body. By eating foods rich in antioxidants, you can naturally reduce how your body responds to inflammation, resulting in fewer flare-ups and lower levels of inflammation overall.
People who follow a Mediterranean diet, rich in antioxidants, healthy fats and plant-based foods tend to show lower inflammatory markers. Great foods to include in your diet are fatty fish such as salmon and tuna, leafy greens including kale and spinach, berries, healthy fats such as those found in nuts, avocado and olive oil, and high-fibre whole grains. Processed foods high in salt and sugar, as well as refined carbohydrates, should be kept to a minimum.
While massage won’t directly reduce inflammation, it can help relieve the lasting effects of pain, especially when muscular. Inflammation can be made worse with other environmental factors including stress, so massage may help someone with arthritis to relax, in turn promoting lower inflammation levels in the body.
Ancient Chinese medicine such as acupuncture can help naturally reduce the impact of pain and discomfort for people living with arthritis. The process involves inserting very thin needles into different trigger points around the body designed to reroute energies in the body and restore balance. While the impact of acupuncture is not long-lasting, the treatment may assist with short term relief from symptoms associated with arthritis.
- Hot and cold therapy
Hot and cold therapy is often recommended by physiotherapists and osteopaths in the management of muscular and joint pain and inflammation. There are several approaches to this natural arthritis pain treatment:
- Heat treatments help to reduce pain by increasing blood flow to an area and reduce stiffness that can be associated with arthritis. Types of heat therapy can include soaking in a long, warm shower or bath, applying heat packs to the joint, or using an electric blanket or moist heating pad to reduce discomfort at night.
- Cold treatments can help relieve joint pain, swelling, and inflammation by constricting the blood vessels. Use an ice pack wrapped in a towel, applying it to painful joints for quick relief or to provide a ‘numbing’ sensation to ease pain. Do not apply ice or frozen products directly to the skin.
- A combination of hot and cold therapy involves switching between the two methods outlined above to promote blood flow, reduce muscle spasms and provide a deep ‘numbing’ sensation by constricting blood vessels. Finding a combination of the two and interchanging them can work well for many who want to ease arthritis pain naturally.
- Breathing techniques
Deep breathing from your diaphragm, or your belly, can help to calm your nervous system and turn off the stress receptors that tighten muscles, resulting in increased pain. Additionally, breathing techniques can be used as a type of meditation that encourages you to focus your brain away from the pain.
Hydrotherapy or whirlpool systems not only help you to unwind, they also relieve aches and pains associated with arthritis by removing weight-bearing pressure on joints. Our Hydrovescent System uses jets of clean air rather than recycled bath water to create thousands of tiny champagne-like bubbles to massage you, encouraging blood circulation and decreasing inflammation.
Likewise, a walk-in shower can be of benefit to those who experience limited mobility due to the pain and inflammation caused by arthritis.
- Progressive muscle relaxation
Using a method to relax muscles in different parts of your body, you can naturally relieve arthritis pain. Follow these steps:
- Tighten then relax muscles in different parts of your body. Work your way down the body, beginning with your face muscles, moving to your neck, arms, chest, back, belly, legs, and feet. Alternatively, work your way up from your feet.
- Inhale as you contract your muscles.
- Exhale when you let go.
There’s no cure for arthritis however there are natural treatments for arthritis pain relief. By following some of the suggestions above, we hope you can minimise the discomfort arthritis causes to enjoy your daily life in greater comfort.