7 tips for arthritis pain reliefBy Laura W. | 24th February 2015
As the seasons change and the weather gets colder and wetter, many suffer with painful joints, especially people who have arthritis. If you are worried you may suffer from arthritis, always check with a doctor to rule out other conditions with similar symptoms such as gout or Lyme disease, which will respond to different treatments.
What is arthritis?
Arthritis is a condition that causes pain and inflammation in the joints. The most common types are osteoarthritis, which erodes the smooth cartilage lining of the joint, causing the bones to rub together and making movement difficult and painful, and rheumatoid arthritis, where the body’s immune system targets affected joints, leading to pain and swelling which can cause the bone and cartilage to break down.
7 tips for arthritis pain relief...
Following a good diet is important to general health and can help prevent arthritis or lessen symptoms. Calcium helps to keep bones strong and healthy, and can be found in milk, yoghurt, broccoli, kale, and figs. Oranges and other colourful fruit and veggies contain Vitamin C, which recent research shows can reduce your risk of arthritis. Oily fish such as salmon and mackerel contain Omega-3, which helps keep joints healthy.
It can be hard to exercise when arthritis causes pain and stiffness, but gentle, low impact exercises such as swimming, cycling, tai chi, yoga or walking can all help improve symptoms. A review of 32 studies found that exercise relieves knee pain as effectively as medication.
3. Weight loss
Maintaining a healthy weight helps to avoid excess stress on joints. Every pound you gain puts 4 times the amount of stress on the knees, and research has shown that losing as little as 11 pounds may improve your joint health and cut your risk of osteoarthritis of the knee by 50 percent. Sign up with a personal trainer so they can help show you the right way to exercise without risking injury or excessive stress on the joints.
4. Posture and movement
Always sit or stand up straight, and when sitting at your desk or just on the sofa, get up and move around every 30 minutes or so. Make sure when using a computer you can sit with your upper body about 20-26 inches from your monitor, that the top of your screen is at eye level, and if you need to, use an ergonomic mouse and keyboard. When carrying heavy things, use your largest and strongest joints, i.e. hold items close to your body, use the palms of your hands and arms to lift things, and where possible, slide things across the floor rather than picking them up.
5. Alternative therapies
Massage and acupuncture have been seen to be effective in helping to manage arthritis symptoms. A review of studies featuring over 18,000 patients suggests that acupuncture may help some sufferers, and stiffness or joint pain can be relieved with deep-tissue massage.
6. Things to avoid
Avoid eating junk food, and try and make healthy choices when eating out – swap fried meat for grilled, have a salad instead of chips, and drink water or juice instead of fizzy drinks. Smokers are at a higher risk of fracture than non-smokers, and smoking can reduce bone mass, which can lead to osteoporosis, so kick the habit to help keep strong and healthy.
Nutritional supplements can be effective at reducing pain and improving the condition of affected joints. Glucosamine supplements are perhaps the best-known natural remedy for arthritis, particularly osteoarthritis. Glucosamine helps to rebuild the thin layer of cartilage between joints, and helps to reduce pain and swelling, whilst improving flexibility and mobility.
The omega 3 fatty acid EPA has also been well-studied for its ability to reduce the inflammation and swelling caused by rheumatoid arthritis. The best sources of EPA are oily fish such as salmon and sardines, while fish oil supplements can help to top-up the diet.