Arthritis is a term used to describe a very common disorder that affects joints.
When we say “arthritis” we usually mean joint pain and stiffness. But it’s not a single disease. There are more than 100 different types of arthritis and related conditions.
People can get affected by this disease regardless of ages, sex or race, and it is the leading cause of disability in America. One out of every five people has some kind of arthritis.
The cause of this disease is practically unknown, but couple things stand out:
- It is most common among women
- As you get older your joints get worn down.
Signs and Symptoms
Usual symptoms include:
- Diminished range of motion.
- Hard bumps under the skin on your arms
- Fatigue feeling of exhaustion and can be associated with depression.
Symptoms can be mild, moderate or severe. May stay about the same for years, but may progress or get worse over time. Decreased mobility, in combination with the above symptoms, can make it difficult for an individual to remain physically active and even simple daily routine could become very problematic, like walking or climbing stairs.
Two most common types of arthritis are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.
Diagnosis is made by clinical examination from an appropriate health professional and may be supported by other tests such as radiology and blood tests.
This type of arthritis is most common and affect both, the larger and the smaller joints of the body, including the hands, wrists, feet, back, hip, and knees. Basically, your joints wear out, damaging join’s cartilage and in severe cases, bone grinding directly on bone, causing excruciating pain and limiting physical activity. This disease affects elderly people.
This type of arthritis makes the immune system attack healthy cells by mistake. And this attack occurs mainly against the joints.
Traditional Medicine is not sure what really causes rheumatoid arthritis, there are many theories ranging from genes, hormones and environmental factors. But they developed risk factors which are:
- Gender 70 percent of people with RA are women.
- Age People between 40 and 60 more likely to develop this disease.
- Genetics Having a sibling or parent with a history of RA increases the chance by three times.
- Obesity Fat Increases Inflammation, damage to the joints.
- Smoking Is linked to the development of rheumatoid arthritis.
There are many options to choose from.
Over-the-counter pain relievers like Tylenol, Alive, Aspirin etc. used to ease joint pain, without doing much to fight inflammation. Long use of these medications can have severe side effects.
Topical pain-relieving creams, gels, and ointments also can ease joint pain and have fewer side effects, scientists suggested that topical applications might be the most effective treatment option they reviewed.
Disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs (DMARDs) These drugs can reduce pain and control inflammation but again have a lot of side effects and can damage the liver and increased risk for infections.
Prescription NSAID’s just like over-the-counter pain relievers only ease the pain, don’t control inflammation, and have a significant risk of stroke and heart attack.
Corticosteroids are steroid hormones that are either produced by the body or are man-made. They quickly reduce inflammation and pain. The problem with these drugs is that benefits do not last long. The joint injection will greatly reduce pain but lasts only between 1 to 3 months. When taken by mouth, corticosteroids must be taken daily to achieve desired results. Because corticosteroids suppress the immune system, the body stays vulnerable to infections, and these drugs have a long list of side effects. When considering therapy, talk to your doctor about all side effects.
People with arthritis often have joint stiffness. Due to the pain they experience, people try to limit the movement because it can make it more painful, but not moving joints actually make it worse. Physical therapy can help. A therapist can show you how to work out without damaging your joint. Physical and occupational therapy can help you get back on track, so you can do your daily activities without a struggle. Research states that joint and soft tissue mobilization is beneficial for patients suffering from arthritis. Please consult your doctor before considering physical therapy, because it’s not for everyone.
There are many surgical options available depending on your condition. I’m not going to deep into this subject because only your doctor can advise you, but keep in mind that surgery can be very effective but often suggested in severe cases of arthritis, where all other treatments fail.
Let’s find out how we can relieve joint pain and what steps we can take to prevent it from happening.
Losing weight can greatly reduce pressure on your joints and make a big impact on how you feel. Losing extra pounds will help with mobility and reduction of stress on your joints will prevent more damage.
Reviewing what to eat is the first step you should take if you have decided to fight arthritis.
What’s forbidden? alcohol, tobacco, fast food, TRANS fats, egg yolks, fatty as well as red meat, corn oil.
Stay away from deep fried and processed food like prepared frozen meals, sugar, and refined carbs, dairy products, salt, and preservatives.
Instead of getting your protein from meat and dairy get it from green vegetables like beans, lentils or spinach.
Replace food with omega-6 fat(like corn oil) with healthy omega-3 alternatives like olive oil, flax seeds, nuts, and pumpkin seeds. Omega-3’s like fish oil can help with joint pain relief.
Before you start any exercise consult your physician. Low impact exercise may be a good option for you. Swimming and water aerobics is the best way to help maintain the flexibility of your joints.
- Strengthen the muscles around your joints
- Help you maintain bone strength
- Give you more energy to get through the day
- Make it easier to get a good night’s sleep
- Help you control your weight
- Enhance your quality of life
- Improve your balance
Apply Hot and Cold Therapy
You can get a relief from pain and inflammation applying hot and cold therapy to your arthritis joints, unfortunately, provides only temporally effect. One more thing I want to mention about this method is that you have to know when using Hot or Cold therapy. For example, you shouldn’t apply heat to the joint that already hot, have redness and irritated, and you shouldn’t apply ice to a joint that stiff and not moving very well. It’s good to remember that heat relaxes the mussels and cold helps with inflammation. Always ask your doctor if this therapy is right for you.
A recent review of 20 studies concluded that mud pack therapy “achieves significant improvements in function, quality of life and perceived pain” in people with knee arthritis and that it can be “an effective alternative” treatment. Like all mud, therapeutic mud is basically a mixture of soil and water, usually with a relatively high content of dissolved minerals and clay. It may provide temporally relief for pain. Minerals absorbed into the skin might have a beneficial effect, plus the heat helps sometimes. Mud packs usually range in temperature from 108° to 116°F and applied for 15 to 30 minutes on the affected area.
Warm Water Bath
Soaking in warm water is one of the oldest tricks in the book of self-therapy and has a very good reason to withstand the test of time. “The research shows our ancestors got it right. It makes you feel better. It makes the joints looser. It reduces pain and it seems to have a somewhat prolonged effect that goes beyond the period of immersion,” says Bruce E. Becker, MD, director of the National Aquatics & Sports Medicine Institute at Washington State University in Spokane.
Soaking in warm water with therapeutic salt may also help you a great deal. Previous studies have shown Dead Sea salts in bath water can relieve arthritis. The Dead Sea has the highest salt content of any body of water in the world, too high to sustain plant or animal life.
Consider finding a warm water pool where you can perform some movements and exercise. Very positive results may be achieved if do such exercise three times a week. Not only it will help with the pain, but also will give an emotional boost and may help with better sleep.
Many women probably familiar with this procedure when they go to a pedicure, but it can be effectively used to ease arthritis pain in hands and feet. The wax traps heat near the skin, which penetrates to stiff and aching joints.
The affected area is submerged in a warm mixture of paraffin, a petroleum-based wax, and mineral oil. This warming treatment soothes aching joints and improves circulation, and the combination of oil and wax softens rough skin.
According to Physiotherapy Journal “reported that after three to four weeks, paraffin wax applications were accompanied by significant improvements in rheumatoid arthritic hand function when followed by exercise.”
Paraffin is completely natural, however, if you have very sensitive skin, paraffin wax may cause heat rash. Please consult with your doctor before using this treatment.
Click Here to read my review on one of the best paraffin bath units available on the market.
- Acupuncture for Arthritis Pain
- Thai Chi
- Relaxation Therapy
Arthritis practically incurable disease. Even with medication and injections pain and stiffness are still there. No surprise, more and more people turning to a more natural approach to treat arthritis. There are many herbal supplements on the market but how do you know which one is going to be a real help and which one you should leave on the shelf?
What is the real story?
How to relieve joint pain naturaly without surgery?
Well, keep reading and I’ll introduce 17 most effective herbal supplements you can buy to ease arthritis pain. Don’t forget to consult with your doctor before starting any herbal treatment.
CBD is a type of cannabinoid, which is a chemical that occurs naturally in cannabis plants. CBD is not a psychoactive chemical. Recent studies suggest that cannabidiol oil could play a role in the treatment of arthritis. A 2008 review of research into CBD and its possible mechanism of action suggested that CBD could play a role in chronic pain management. Learn More about CBD Oil here.
SAM-e is a compound that’s made naturally in the body and plays an essential role in normal bodily function. A synthesized form of SAM-e sold in the US as a supplement. There is a compelling evidence that SAM-e is a very effective treatment for osteoarthritis pain. Some studies have found that oral SAM-e is as effective as NSAID painkillers but with much fewer side effects.
Supplements don’t act as fast as drugs but have a much less impact on your internal organs. Some studies even found that SAM-e can be effective against depression. SAMe is also said to enhance mental performance, boost liver health, slow the aging process, and help people quit smoking.
Avocado-soybean Unsaponifiables (ASU)
Avocado soybean unsaponifiables (often referred to as ASU) are a natural vegetable extract made from avocado and soybean oils. In some clinical studies, ASU is shown promising results in treating osteoarthritis pain. For example, patients who took 300 mg of ASU daily for 3 months did not need as much pain medication as before.
Results from six studies of ASU found that taking 300 mg daily for three to 12 months slightly improved pain and functioning. There is no good evidence that it prevents cartilage breakdown.
Fish Oil (Omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA)
Omega-3 fatty acids are found in fatty layers of cold-water fish and shellfish, plant and nut oils, English walnuts, flaxseed, algae oils, and fortified foods. You can also get omega-3s as a supplement.
Long-chain omega-3 fatty acids found in fish and shellfish. Short-chain omega-3 fatty acids found in plants, such as flaxseed. Hundreds of studies suggest that omega-3s may provide some benefits to a wide range of diseases, including heart problems, cancer, mental disorder, vision problems, inflammation, liver disease, depression, and anxiety. When you buy a fish oil supplement, be sure to read the label to check for purity, concentration, form, and sustainability.
Remember what they say “Eat Fish Live Longer“, now there’s fresh evidence that following that advice can not only reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease but actually help you live longer—especially if you’re already age 65 or older.
Gamma Linolenic Acid (GLA)
Gamma linolenic acid known as GLA is a fatty substance found in various plant seed oils such as borage oil, black currant oil, and evening primrose oil. People use it as medicine for conditions such as arthritis, nerve damage due to diabetes, eczema, high blood pressure, and other conditions. Several small studies indicate that borage oil and evening primrose oil may ease tenderness and swelling in people with rheumatoid arthritis.
Aloe Vera is one of the most commonly used plants in alternative medicine. The plant is cultivated in tropical regions and extracts are widely used as flavoring agents in foods, cosmetics, and medicine. Aloe Vera provides several therapeutic properties and health benefits. It possesses anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant properties that can be beneficial in preventing arthritis.
Aloe Vera plant is available in any supermarket and it can be grown as a houseplant, does not require much care. It is also available as ointments, creams, and lotions. Aloe Vera gel capsules can be taken at a dose of 50-200 mg daily. It is best to consult a doctor about the dosage of Aloe Vera for arthritis. The Aloe Vera gel can be directly applied to the affected joints to relieve pain and inflammation.
Turmeric is a bright yellow spice that is typically ground from the root of the Curcuma longa plant. Related to ginger root, turmeric is the main ingredient in curry. An antioxidant compound in turmeric known as curcumin is said to fight inflammation. Curcumin supplement comes with piperine (a compound in black pepper known to increase curcumin’s absorption). You can take turmeric or curcumin as a spice, as a tea, and as a supplement.
There are side effects including digestive upset, headache, and skin rashes. In higher doses, it may cause nausea and diarrhea, so you should always consult with your doctor before taking any supplements.
It comes from the branches of 2- to 3-year-old willow trees. The use of willow bark dates to the time of Hippocrates (400 BC) when people were advised to chew on the bark to reduce fever and inflammation. Willow bark has been used throughout the centuries in China and Europe and continues to be used today for the treatment of pain (particularly low back pain and osteoarthritis), headache, and inflammatory conditions.
Willow bark, also known as “nature’s aspirin,” contains a precursor to aspirin, which essentially provides the same benefits as the tablet. It comes as a capsule, a liquid, a tea and as a topical solution. The recommended dose for pain relief is 240 milligrams a day for a capsule. However, because it has side effects you should always consult with your doctor before taking any supplements.
Green tea is the product of leaves from the plant Camellia sinensis. We all know how beneficial green tea is for our health that’s a well-known fact. But I want to talk about the specific benefit of green tea its ability to fight arthritis. Green tea is known to have a strong anti-inflammatory property. Epigallocatechin Gallate (EGCG) is found to have the strongest anti-inflammatory response and basically reduced inflammation equals reduced pain.
Drinking Green Tea or taking supplements can give your body tons of antioxidants and help not only treat disease but to prevent it. Always consult with your doctor before taking any supplements.
Eucalyptus is an evergreen tree and there are more than 700 species of eucalyptus and most are native to Australia. It can be found in many products, it is used to reduce symptoms of coughs, colds, and congestion. It also features in creams and ointments aimed at relieving muscle and joint pain. The oil that comes from the eucalyptus tree is used as an antiseptic, a perfume, as an ingredient in cosmetics, as a flavoring, in dental preparations, and in industrial cleaners. Eucalyptus oil is known for its anti-viral and anti-bacterial healing properties. It has many other health benefits which include fighting fungal infections and skin wounds.
According to Up-Nature.com a 2013 study conducted to investigate the “effects of eucalyptus oil inhalation on pain and inflammatory responses after total knee replacement” suggested that “inhalation of eucalyptus oil was effective in decreasing patient’s pain and blood pressure following TKR.” So if you have knee pain, eucalyptus oil can help you find effective relief. Always consult with your doctor before taking any supplements.
Ginger is a flowering plant that originated from China. Ginger is mentioned in ancient Chinese, Indian and Middle Eastern writings. Aromatic, pungent and spicy, ginger adds a special flavor and zest to Asian stir fries and many fruit and vegetable dishes. Ginger has a very long history of use in various forms of traditional/alternative medicine. It has been used to help digestion, reduce nausea and help fight the flu and common cold. Ginger may reduce inflammation and may help stimulate blood circulation. We all keep ginger in our kitchen cabinets but maybe we should put some in our medicine cabinet too. Always consult with your doctor before taking any supplements.
Cat’s claw is a vine with hook-like thorns that resemble the claws of a cat. Native to the Amazon and South and Central American rain forests, cat’s claw bark and root have been used for centuries by South Americans as a remedy for inflammatory conditions like arthritis, asthma, urinary tract infections, kidney problems, fewer and gastritis. Cat’s claw’s anti-inflammatory effects have been commonly used to treat both rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis. Cat’s claw became known for the rest of the world after introduction in the 1970’s and has become one of the most popular herbal remedies available. Since the 1990’s it has been used to treat HIV patients. Cat’s claw available in a form of tea, tincture, extract(dried powder) and capsule. Always consult with your doctor before taking any supplements.
This herb also known as Indian frankincense comes from the Boswellia serrata tree native to India. It has been used for thousands of years in Ayurveda to treat conditions including arthritis, pain, fever, and heart disease. Other types of Boswellia, including Boswellia sacra and Boswellia carteri, have comparable effects. The anti-inflammatory actions of Boswellia have been shown in several studies to ease the pain, reduce swelling, and improve mobility in patients with arthritis or osteoarthritis. Unlike some herbs, which may take weeks to be effective, Boswellia works quickly—in one study, Boswellia extract reduced pain and improved knee-joint functions within seven days.
You’ll find Boswellia serrata extract as a single supplement in capsules, powders, and tinctures. It’s also often included in anti-inflammatory formulas with turmeric (curcumin) and other herbs. Always consult with your doctor before taking any supplements.
Capsaicin is a chemical compound from fruits of chili plant which is usually found in India. The dried powder of the chili added to curries and dishes for flavoring and is very popular. Not many people are aware that the capsaicin found in the chili fruits can be used as a treatment for many medical conditions including rheumatoid arthritis. It can be used as a counter-irritant for arthritic disorders and it is also used as a pain reliever. Application of capsaicin based ointments or creams has been found to be an effective way of reduction of arthritis pain.
Capsaicin is mainly used in the form of creams, ointments, lotions or gels to alleviate the pain. Because there are side effects always consult with your doctor before taking any supplements.
Bromelain, an extract from the pineapple plant, has been demonstrated to show anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties and may provide a safer alternative treatment for osteoarthritis.
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) classifies bromelain as “possibly effective” for osteoarthritis (the most common arthritis form) when used in combination with trypsin (an enzyme) and rutin (an antioxidant found in certain fruits, vegetables, and herbs like ginkgo biloba and St. John’s wort). According to the NIH, the combination of bromelain, trypsin, and rutin may be “about as effective as some prescription painkillers” in the treatment of arthritis pain. Usually recommended dose to treat arthritis is 400 milligrams taken 1–2 times daily. Always consult with your doctor before taking any supplements.
Ginkgo biloba, generally known as ginkgo tree, is a traditional medicinal tree native to China. It is one of the oldest living tree species in the world. In 270 million years old rock layers scientist found fossils of ancient trees look just like ginkgo tree. Buddhist monks start cultivating ginkgo in the 11th century, but only in the 1900s, it begin to draw interest in the West as a medicinal herb. Now Ginkgo is one of the best selling supplement on the market.
Ginkgo contains powerful antioxidants and can reduce inflammation. Its also known for the prevention and treatment of dementia. Studies have shown it also improves arterial function, circulation and protects heart health. Ginkgo has pain relieving and anti-inflammatory properties. Some animal studies suggest that Ginkgo biloba extract improves the immune system and antioxidant enzyme activities. Ginkgo is available in various forms like liquid, tablet, capsule, and extract. The recommended dose of the extract is 120-240 mg daily. Always consult with your doctor before taking any supplements.
Stinging nettle, or urtica dioica, is a perennial flowering plant that has been used medicinally for ages, dating back as far as Ancient Greece. Today, it can be found all over the world, but its origins are in the colder regions of Europe and Asia. Extract of the root may be useful to treat prostate enlargement. Therapeutical use of leaves provides relief from allergies and from arthritis. Extracts of Stinging Nettle leaf have been studied in osteoarthritis patients and findings indicate that herbal treatment using Stinging nettle decrease pain and inflammation.
Stinging nettle is available in various forms like tea, liquid, tablet, capsule, and extract. Always consult with your doctor before taking any supplements.
Thunder God Vine
Thunder God Vine is a vine-like plant from Asia. It has been used for centuries in China to treat conditions involving inflammation or overactive immune system. The traditional use of thunder god vine consists of skinning the root of the vine and then reducing that extract into a powder. The powder can then be drunk with water. The natural anti-inflammatory activity of thunder god vine extract can help with arthritis, gout, respiratory conditions and gastrointestinal inflammation, among many others. The side effects can be intense so always consult with your doctor before taking any supplements.
I hope this information was helpful and if you have any questions or want to share your story you are most welcome to leave comments below.
Thank You very much for reading my blog and God bless you.
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