Those of us who are opposed to “acting our age” may still feel young at heart, but when your joints start letting you know the weather’s about to change, you don’t have to just live with it and “be old.” There are lots of medical treatments for the different types of arthritis, but there are also things you can do at home to relieve symptoms and reduce inflammation.
Osteoarthritis alone affects the ability of 27 million Americans to function daily. When a problem is that prevalent and painful, many supposed “cures” will crop up, from shark cartilage to copper jewelry to WD40 (yes, really).
Obviously, you need to work with your medical practitioner to explore standard treatment options, but there are actually quite a few natural and home remedies that can be effective too. Some are simple, like heat and ice packs. If you’re going to try acupuncture or water yoga, however, you’ll need a certified professional.
Ask your doctor what would be more helpful based on the particular causes and state of your pain, and also ask if there are things you definitely shouldn’t try in your case.
Here are the top 7 Natural Treatments for Arthritis, most of which I have tried myself. If you’re wondering where Essential Oils are in this list, I actually have a whole post on Essential Oils for Relieving Arthritis here, so I didn’t want to repeat myself :).
Heat and Cold
Heat and cold treatments are widely recognized to ease rheumatoid arthritis symptoms. Cold reduces swelling and inflammation. Applying an ice pack to the affected joint during an RA flare-up can bring pretty quick temporary relief. Don’t use a cold compress for more than 15 minutes at a time and take at least a 30-minute break between cold treatments.
Heat relaxes tight muscles and stimulates blood flow. A heating pad, a warm, damp towel, or microwaveable hot pack will work. It’s best to put a thin towel or blanket between the heat source and your skin — it shouldn’t feel like it’s burning.
Maybe you’ve tried some of these for stress relief or sleep rituals — they can also provide pain relief though.
Taking slow breaths from your belly will slow your heart rate and infuse your body with oxygen.
This can mentally “turn off” some of the pain by engaging your brain with other signals. Close your eyes, breathe regularly and deeply, and imagine yourself in a quiet, peaceful place, focus on sensory impressions and the details you see there.
You don’t have to subscribe to any particular spiritual belief to meditate. Just focus on your breathing and notice each inhale and exhale. Anyone at all can do it, and just a few minutes can make a big difference. The goal is to quiet your body and mind so if you feel anxious thoughts, distractions, and aches pulling your mind off task, don’t be upset because that happens to everyone and would defeat the purpose. Just calmly redirect your focus to your breath, or a candle flame, or relaxing photo or painting, or whatever you choose.
Practicing this slow, gentle martial art is very easy on your joints. You can gain more flexibility and strength, too.
This traditional form of Chinese medicine uses super-fine needles to stimulate energy pathways called “meridians” in the body to correct imbalances of energy, or “qi.”
There isn’t much research on arthritis specifically, but studies do indicate that acupuncture can help with pain, especially back pain. It may also help with osteoarthritis.
There are some promising studies being done on supplements and RA relief, but more research should be done before we know anything definitively. This shouldn’t stop you from trying something out to see if it works in your case though. Do bear in mind that some supplements can interact with medications. Tell your doctor or pharmacist about anything you take, even if it’s natural, so they can let you know if it will interact with your regular medicines.
Several studies have concluded that fish oil supplements may help reduce morning stiffness often seen with RA. Omega-3s reduce inflammation as well as provide some protection from heart disease. People with RA are at a higher risk for heart disease, so this could be of double benefit. Fish oil is usually safe when used as directed — more than 3 grams per day can increase a risk of bleeding, so do keep below that level.
Micronized Purple Rice
Well, you knew this one was coming, didn’t you? If you’ve read or watched my story you know that after trying many natural supplements and treatments for my inflammation and arthritis pain, Paula’s Purple Rice was the star player in the healing team. Taken alone, people consistently report reduction of inflammation, but like others, I discovered that it can make other nutritious foods and supplements more efficacious — whether this is because your body can process them more efficiently or because they hitch a ride straight to your cells by mingling with the micronized purple rice powder, or maybe it’s just a mystery! Whatever the reason, I am going to keep exercising, deep breathing, and taking my Paula’s Purple Rice to live pain-free!
What natural cures or treatments have proven most effective for treating your arthritis? Tell me in the comments!