Arthritis sufferers will tell you that living with the condition is rarely easy. Flare ups, unpredictable pain and stiffening of joints mean that carrying out daily chores and activities can be challenging and sore. Added to that, arthritis is a degenerative condition, which means the chances of the symptoms worsening over time are unfortunately very high.
However, there are some useful ways to manage and lessen your symptoms - whether you suffer from the wear and tear of cartilage caused by osteoarthritis or from the auto-immune form of rheumatoid arthritis.
As a sufferer, you will probably have been prescribed medication by your doctor to relive the pain, but many GP’s also recommend applying some of these natural approaches in your pain management plan.
Remember to talk to your doctor before trying any remedy for arthritis, whether it involves medication or not.
1. Manage your weight
Your weight can have a big impact on arthritis symptoms. Extra weight puts more pressure on your joints, especially your knees, hips, and feet.
If you are overweight, chat to your doctor to help you set a target weight and design a program to help you reach that target.
Reducing the stress on your joints by losing some weight can help:
- improve your mobility
- decrease pain
- prevent future damage to your joints
2. Get enough exercise
If you have arthritis, adding in some extra daily exercise can help you:
- manage your weight
- keep your joints flexible
- strengthen muscles around your joints, which offers more support
Good, low impact options include:
3. Hot and cold therapy
Heat and cold treatments can help relieve arthritis pain and inflammation.
- Heat treatments can include using a hot/cold pack to relieve sore and stiff joints, perhaps take a long, warm shower or bath or use an electric blanket, heating pad or sand-filled electric pad to reduce discomfort overnight.
- Cold treatments can also help to relieve joint pain, swelling, and inflammation caused by arthritis. Applying a simple cold pack to painful joints can be really effective for quick relief. Make sure to never apply ice directly to the skin.
4. Wear arthritis gloves
If you have rheumatoid arthritis you are likely to feel stiffness and pain in the small joints of your hands. Occupational therapists sometimes recommend arthritis gloves to help with symptoms. Gloves either provide thermal capacity (i.e. heat) or a light compression which helps to ease pain and swelling. They could make it easier to deal with your daily activities.
5. Follow a healthy diet
A diet that’s rich in fresh fruits, vegetables, and whole foods can help boost your immune system and your overall health. Studies have shown that reducing red meat, processed foods, saturated fats and added sugar/salt can also reduce the occurrence of inflammation in the joints. Plant-based foods have the opposite effect and have been shown to help reduce inflammation, and it’s therefore recommended that arthritis sufferers make sure they add plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables into their diet.
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