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10 natural remedies for arthritis pain relief

Updated: March 8, 2012 11:04 AM EST
Following a regular exercise routine can help individuals with arthritis to keep their joints flexible. (©iStockphoto/Thinkstock) Following a regular exercise routine can help individuals with arthritis to keep their joints flexible. (©iStockphoto/Thinkstock)
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By Ashley Henshaw

Arthritis can be a painful and potentially debilitating disease. Fortunately, there are several ways that you can find pain relief for this condition. Even if you are taking medications for your arthritis, there are several natural remedies that you can try to help relieve your symptoms and increase flexibility in your affected joints.

What Is Arthritis?

Arthritis is a condition in which inflammation affects one or more of the joints in the body. This occurs as joint cartilage wears away, allowing the bone to rub against another bone. The most common symptoms are joint pain, swelling and stiffness. These symptoms typically get worse with age.

There are several types of arthritis, but osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis are the most common forms of the disease. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), arthritis is the most common cause of disability in the United States, affecting nearly 21 million people.

1. Exercise

Following a regular exercise routine can help individuals with arthritis to keep their joints flexible. It's especially helpful to find ways of exercising that don't place added stress on the joints.

For example, swimming or doing water aerobics are great ways to get a workout and move your joints without putting any added pressure on them. Other options include using a stationary bike or an elliptical machine. Sometimes, working with a physical therapist can help someone with arthritis to find exercises that work for them which will also be safe for their joints. (For more ideas on appropriate exercises with arthritis, read Low-Impact Aerobics: Easy Workouts For Anyone.)

2. Weight Loss

Being overweight or obese puts added stress on many joints in the body. Being heavier also limits a person's mobility and can increase the chances of experiencing a joint injury.

According to Health Magazine, every pound a person sheds lifts 4 pounds of pressure off of the knees. Losing weight and then maintaining a healthy weight will ease the stress on the joints and provide more opportunities for exercise. In some cases, symptoms of arthritis can disappear if a person loses just 10 or 20 pounds.

3. Assistive Devices

The use of assistive devices may be helpful for some individuals with arthritis. Examples of assistive devices include canes, walkers, shoe inserts, splints, braces and raised toilet seats. Each of these products can be useful for protecting joints and improving an individual's ability to be mobile and safe in his or her daily life.

4. Hot And Cold Packs

Applying hot and cold packs to affected joints may help relieve some of the symptoms of arthritis. Some individuals can also take hot baths to help relieve the stiffness and pain that they may experience with their condition.

5. Acupuncture

This type of therapy involves the use of tiny needles which are inserted at specific points on the body in order to relieve pain. There are several studies which support the claims that acupuncture helps to reduce pain associated with arthritis. (To learn more about acupuncture to relieve arthritis pain, read Using Acupuncture For Natural Joint Pain Relief.)

6. Yoga

Yoga consists of many long, slow stretches that may be helpful for improving joint flexibility and range of motion. According to the Johns Hopkins Arthritis Center, good medical care combined with yoga can provide physical and psychological benefits for those suffering from arthritis. (To learn more about yoga, read 10 Amazing Health Benefits Of Yoga.)

7. Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS)

With TENS, a small device is strategically placed at points on the body where pain is being felt. Then, mild electrical pulses are produced to stimulate certain nerves associated with the affected joints. Evidence shows that this can provide short-term pain relief and joint stiffness associated with arthritis by interfering with pain signals to the brain.

8. Tai Chi

Tai Chi is an ancient Chinese practice that has been known for having multiple health benefits, especially in the elderly. These benefits include easing the symptoms of arthritis and relieving pain, in general. Like yoga, tai chi can help those with arthritis feel more relaxed and increase balance and flexibility. Tai chi can also help fight stress and depression associated with arthritis and help lift people's spirits.

9. Electroacupuncture

This is very similar to TENS, except that the electrodes attached to the small device are placed on acupuncture points on the body rather than around the affected joints.

10. Glucosamine And Chondroitin

There is quite a bit of controversy over the effectiveness of these supplements on arthritis pain. Recent studies suggest that the only reduction in pain from these supplements is attributed to a placebo effect. However, doctors generally recommend that, since there are no harmful side effects of these supplements, those who have had success in reducing pain by taking these supplements should continue to do so. An important note to keep in mind is that those who do take glucosamine are advised to take glucosamine sulfate rather than glucosamine hydrochloride. (For more information on these supplements, read Glucosamine And Chondroitin For Osteoarthritis.)

Studies suggest that some other supplements may be helpful in reducing the symptoms of arthritis, but further evidence is required to confirm those conclusions. These supplements include fish oil, rose hips, concentrated ginger and avocado soybean unsaponifiables. While there is currently no cure for arthritis, there are natural remedies that can be used to relieve symptoms and improve one's quality of life. It is always recommended to consult your physician before making lifestyle changes or trying new, natural remedies to relieve arthritis pain.

Sources:

CDC
Health Magazine
Mayo Clinic
Johns Hopkins Arthritis Center

This article was originally posted on SymptomFind.com

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