One out of every five adults in the United States suffers from some form of arthritis, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. While people of all ages can develop arthritis, it is more common in seniors. The most important factor in treating arthritis is to talk to your doctor about pain management and any potential physical therapy or occupational therapy he or she may recommend. Your doctor can also address any other related health concerns you may have. While working with your doctor to manage your pain is important, there are some home arthritis remedies that may also help reduce joint pain in conjunction with the plan you developed with your doctor.
Regular exercise helps you keep your weight down, which reduces stress on your joints. It also aids in building strength and compensates for limited movement in your joints. The best exercises for arthritis sufferers include stretches, strength exercises, and range-of-motion exercises. The National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases recommends swimming, low-impact aerobics, low-stress yoga, and tai chi. Before you begin any new exercise program, though, ask your doctor if it’s safe for you.
Use Heat or Cold
One of the most common arthritis remedies is also one of the most simple. Applying heat or cold can reduce swelling, dull your pain, and help stiff joints feel better. In general, cold should be applied to swollen, or “hot,” joints. This can be done simply by holding a cold compress on the joint for 15 minutes, then removing it for at least half an hour.
Hot packs or heating pads will help loosen stiff joints and relax away minor aches and pains. You can also exercise in a heated pool or relax in a whirlpool, if your doctor approves. Even a warm shower can help when you’re feeling achy.
Massage eases muscle tension and relieves pain by helping you relax. Ask your doctor or a local arthritis support group to recommend a massage therapist. This is important, because you’ll want a therapist who has experience working with clients who have arthritis. You can also learn to massage your joints yourself. The American Massage Therapy Association offers a list of self-massage techniques for arthritis sufferers on its website.
Put Mind Over Matter
Some arthritis remedies won’t actually reduce the amount of pain you’re in, but they can lower the amount of pain you perceive. The Mayo Clinic suggests journaling and other coping skills because studies show they can lead to a reduction in perceived pain levels. Journaling offers an emotional release, while staying busy with activities such as sewing or knitting keeps the joints in the hands moving and also helps sidetrack you from thinking about your pain. Visualization and meditation can work similarly. Both can slow your heart rate and help you relax. This could help lower your perception of pain.
Before you try any of these arthritis remedies, it’s important to discuss your plan with your health care team. You should work closely with your doctor and ensure that he or she understands any pain management strategies you plan to use for your arthritis.