Learn more about the home remedies that can ease your arthritis pain naturally.
Maintain movement: When it comes to joint mobility and arthritis, think “move it or lose it.” Try not to stand, sit, or lie down in a single position too long; rather adjust your position frequently to prevent stiffness and pain and lessen the signs and symptoms of arthritis. Use this as a reason to wiggle your fingers and toes, tilt your head from side to side, stretch your lower back, and bend and straighten your legs in ways that feel comfortable. Pay attention to what feels right and never push yourself into a painful position.
Exercise regularly and gently: Choose types of activities that you enjoy and that feel good to your body. Low-impact activities like walking, swimming, water exercises, and cycling, help strengthen the muscles surrounding joints with less potential for causing damage. Gradually increasing resistance training (especially under the supervision of a qualified trainer or physical therapist) and range-of-motion exercises can be particularly helpful in building strength and maintaining mobility. Avoid exercises that cause too much stress on the joints like running, jumping, and tennis. Added benefits of regular, gentle exercise include weight management and mood elevation.
Indulge in massage. Whether in a spa, a physical therapy office, or at home by yourself (on the parts of your body you can comfortably reach), massage can have many benefits for arthritis sufferers. A study at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey found that adults with knee osteoarthritis who received two Swedish massages per week for eight weeks had significant improvements in knee pain, stiffness, range of motion, and function compared with those who received no massage. In another study in the Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies, adults with hand or wrist arthritis who received four short, moderate-pressure massages per week – and instruction on how to massage sore joints at home – experienced less pain and anxiety and improved grip strength compared with a control group.
Remember, getting a rub-down should help you feel better, not worse, so listen to your body and it will tell you what to do. Massage should not be used during an arthritis flare or in people who have severely damaged joints, brittle bones due to osteoporosis, high blood pressure, or varicose veins.
Cool it down or warm it up. Hot and/or cold compresses may provide some comfort to sore joints. Both alter the sensation of pain, but while heat dilates blood vessels to stimulate circulation, cold constricts blood vessels to reduce swelling. If using heat, find a warm (not truly hot) temperature that you can tolerate. You can try heating pads, hot packs, disposable heat patches, a warm bath or shower, wrapping an affected joint in a scarf or blanket, or even a pair of gloves on suffering hands and fingers. If using cold, you can try cool packs, ice packs, or a towel soaked in cool water. Effectively using hot and cold compresses for arthritis relief might require some trial and error. Work with your physician and/or physical therapist to find a system that works for you.
Epsom salts. A natural hot compress with the added anti-inflammatory benefit of magnesium, Epsom salts baths are often very comforting to those with arthritis. Dissolve two cups of Epson salts in a bathtub full of warm water and allow yourself to soak for about 15-30 minutes. Speak to your physician first if you are pregnant or have high blood pressure or heart disease.
Meditation. Practicing meditation, mindfulness, and even simple breathing exercises can improve both the physical pain of arthritis and the emotional ways of coping with it. These practices involve quieting the body and the mind, staying in the present moment, and noticing what thoughts and emotions come up. Though you don’t choose to have arthritis, you can certainly choose how to relate to it.
A study published in the Journal of Psychosomatic Research found significant improvements among chronic pain sufferers (including those with arthritis) using a form of meditation called mindfulness-based stress reduction; participants had improvements not only in the physical aspects of pain but also in measures of quality of life and psychological distress. And as an added benefit, meditation and mindfulness have mounting scientific evidence for improvement of anxiety and depression, two conditions that often accompany the chronic pain of arthritis.
Want more natural arthritis remedies? Learn how to find relief in your kitchen cabinet.