There are numerous treatments for joint pain, such as over-the-counter medication, anti-inflammatory drugs and alternative methods. While not all of these options will provide complete relief from arthritis symptoms, some can help slow its progression.
Recently, a study examined the effects of a functional medicine program on patients diagnosed with either rheumatoid arthritis (RA) or psoriatic arthritis (PsA). Results revealed statistically significant reductions in pain scores among those receiving Functional Medicine treatment versus those receiving standard of care treatment.
Coping with arthritis pain can be a gruelling experience. Not only are you dealing with medical expenses and lifestyle adjustments, but side effects from medications and worries about the future all add to the pressure you already feel.
When someone is stressed, their body releases cortisol which amplifies inflammation within their immune system and causes pain. This makes those with arthritis especially prone to flare-ups.
It is essential to manage your stress as much as possible. The more in control of the situation, the less likely it will impact on the symptoms associated with arthritis.
The key to managing stress is finding a way to calm your mind and body – this practice of mindfulness or meditation. Simple activities such as breathing exercises, deep-breathing exercises, relaxation techniques, reading a book or listening to music can all help you decompress and feel more positive about the situation at hand.
Many people with arthritis report finding it beneficial to have a friend or family member who can offer support in these areas. It may also be beneficial to consult a counsellor or therapist if self-care and other stress relieving strategies aren’t providing you with results.
Some stress-reducing methods that have been scientifically proven to work include massage, heat and cold therapy, as well as applying an ice pack wrapped in a towel or heating pad on your painful joint. These techniques can alleviate pain, swelling and inflammation.
It is essential to remember that stress is normal and an inevitable part of daily life. However, if it’s interfering with your quality of life and you are experiencing severe emotional or mental distress, consulting with a counsellor or rheumatologist may be beneficial.
Exercising regularly can help manage arthritis pain by building muscle strength and flexibility, as well as eliminating damaged cells in your joints. Exercising is also a great way to improve overall fitness levels and health.
Aerobic exercises that raise your heart rate (such as walking, cycling or swimming) are beneficial for overall fitness and may reduce inflammation in joints. Ideally, aim to get 150 minutes of moderately hard aerobic activity each week — or more if your condition is worse).
Weight-bearing exercises — that is, exercises that involve using free weights or other machines to build muscle — can strengthen and tone muscles surrounding the joint. However, it’s best to begin with low resistance or light weights so as not to put too much strain on your joints.
Stretching is an excellent way to promote joint health. Doing stretches before and after your workout can improve flexibility, range of motion, and range of motion.
Stretches can be done from either seated or standing positions, targeting specific muscle groups that may be strained when experiencing joint pain. Consult your doctor about which stretches are suitable for you.
Preventing overuse by warming up before exercising is the best way to ensure a safe workout. Start by doing some light, brisk walking for several minutes in order to get your joints and muscles prepared for strenuous activity.
Alternating upper and lower body exercises or using props like yoga blocks to keep pressure off joints, can be beneficial when working out with joint pain. For instance, if you have knee pain, do squats by shifting your weight onto your heels instead of your knees.
Exercise and staying hydrated are both effective functional medicines for joint pain. Aim to drink at least half an ounce of water for every pound of body weight each day in order to promote healthy joint function and minimize damage from overuse.
A nutritious diet can help alleviate joint pain, especially for those suffering from rheumatoid arthritis (RA) or osteoarthritis. Eating the right foods increases bone density, strengthens connective tissues and reduces inflammation.
Inflammation is the leading cause of joint pain, and a balanced diet can help control it. Fruits and vegetables are packed with essential nutrients that support the immune system; cruciferous veggies like broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts or kale have anti-inflammatory properties which may reduce swelling.
Foods high in omega-3 fatty acids, such as salmon, tuna, sardines and herring, can be highly beneficial for relieving inflammation in the body. These fish can either be consumed naturally or taken as supplements.
Garlic is an essential part of a nutritious diet, as it contains diallyl disulphide which helps to minimize the negative effects of inflammation in your body. Furthermore, garlic provides ample amounts of vitamin C which combats free radicals in your system and protects cartilage against arthritis-induced damage.
Onions and leeks are anti-inflammatory foods that can be added to a balanced diet. They’re rich in sulphur and vitamin B6, which may boost energy levels, lower cholesterol, and prevent aging.
Eating a diet low in refined sugars and saturated fats can significantly reduce joint pain. Refined sugars and saturated fats trigger the production of advanced glycation end (AGE) oxidants, which increase inflammation within your body.
The Arthritis Foundation recommends a diet that incorporates various fruits and vegetables, along with healthy oils like olive oil. Additionally, you should incorporate whole grains, legumes, nuts and seeds into your meals for extra energy and nutritional boost.
Sleep disturbance is a common comorbidity for individuals suffering from severe joint pain, especially osteoarthritis (OA). Studies have revealed that sleep plays an integral role in managing pain, and poor sleep can make the condition worse.
Many people living with OA also suffer from chronic fatigue, often linked to inadequate sleep. Fortunately, there are simple steps you can take to enhance your sleeping quality and reduce fatigue levels.
Start by getting some natural light each morning – this helps reset your body’s internal clock. Additionally, try to limit caffeine (tea, coffee, chocolate, cola and energy drinks) after midday as this may make it more challenging to fall asleep at night.
Exercising regularly is also recommended to relax muscles and joints, relieving any tension that might lead to aches or pains in your body.
Scientists are still uncertain as to exactly why poor sleep causes increased pain, but it has been suggested that when our nerves become oversensitive due to not getting enough shut-eye, our pain tolerance decreases and it becomes harder for us to cope with discomfort.
Furthermore, lack of sleep can contribute to muscle and joint inflammation that could aggravate conditions like arthritis. It also increases your likelihood of developing other health issues as well.
Treating arthritis can be challenging without adequate rest each night, but the effort is worth the effort. If you’re having trouble sleeping due to your arthritis, speak to a doctor about it; they may be able to prescribe some medications which could aid in sleeping better or suggest non-drug solutions to improve sleep quality and relieve pain symptoms.
Massage is a type of hands-on therapy that can help relieve pain and stiffness in joints. According to the National Centre for Complementary and Integrative Health, various techniques from light stroking to deep pressure may be used.
Massage is often sought out for its stress relieving properties, but the technique can also be utilized to enhance conventional medical care in various ways. For instance, medical massage – often performed in a hospital or clinical setting with approval from a doctor – has been shown to improve sleep quality and increase daytime energy levels.
Another advantage of massage is its potential to reduce pain and stiffness associated with arthritis. Studies have demonstrated that massage may reduce inflammation as well as joint discomfort for individuals suffering from osteoarthritis, when combined with other treatments like ice.
To maximize the benefit of a massage, be honest with your therapist about any symptoms or locations so they can customize the treatment to meet your individual needs. Furthermore, communicate if there is any pain experienced during the session so they can adjust it appropriately.