Arthritis is considered an ageing disease but 2/3s of its sufferers are under the age of 65. As many as 50 million Americans are struck with its devastating effects each year. Which means 1 in 5 Americans over the age of 45 will be affected by the condition to some extent.
There are many forms of arthritis, the most common is osteoarthritis. Characterized by pain and inflammation of the joints, as well as potential redness and swelling. This is caused from the normal wear and tear damage to the cartilage which lines every joint in our body. Any joint can be affected but the most common are the hands, wrists, ankles, knees, hips and back.
Rheumatoid arthritis is caused by the immune system attacking the synovial membrane, which is the membrane that protects the inner lining of the joint. Cartilage acts as joint lubrication, once it’s destroyed the bone on bone abrasion causes pain and swelling.
There is also the more rare psoriatic arthritis, arthritis associated with lupus and other auto-immune disorders.
There are several treatments for arthritis, and many depend on the type that you have. There are medications, changes to diet, exercises, losing weight and some alternative non-medicinal treatments. Here we will discuss each of these natural ways to helps reduce the inflammation and pain associated with arthritis.
With diet, there are foods you can eat that will decrease the inflammation and foods you should avoid. Foods you should eat include:
- Foods to include: Cherries, apples, blueberries, strawberries, pineapple, spinach, fish that are high in omega-3 fatty acids such as salmon, tuna, halibut, snapper, tuna and cod, choosing olive oil, especially extra virgin olive oil for cooking and salads, nuts like walnuts, almonds, hazelnuts and sunflower seeds, herbs and spices like garlic, basil, chili peppers, parsley, oregano (marjoram), thyme, rosemary, ginger and turmeric, chocolate (but it must be at least 70% pure cocoa), and green tea.
- Foods to avoid: Processed and fried foods, food cooked at high temperatures create AGEs (Advanced Glycation End products), which can cause various forms of inflammation including arthritis, refined sugar and flour products, dairy products (you can use alternative sources such as soy or rice milk products), palm oil, and excessive alcohol.
Exercise can be one of the hardest things to initiate as an arthritis sufferer. In the beginning you’re going to experience the highest levels of pain so don’t overexert yourself. Start with small bite sized amounts, of 10-15 minutes so you begin to make your muscle and joints used to the pressures of new movements. The best exercises are walking, swimming and cycling as they are all low impact and won’t put too much pressure on your joints. I’ll stress it again start small and slow.
- Weight Loss: When you are overweight, you put extra pressure on your joints, which increases the wear and tear that occurs naturally.
- Natures Best: One of nature’s best arthritis pain relievers is capsaicin. Capsaicin occurs naturally in varieties of hot peppers including cayenne. You can by a commercially prepared cream, or simply add one part cayenne pepper powder to 5 parts warm Vaseline (1 tablespoon cayenne to 5 tablespoons of warm Vaseline) and apply. Vaseline works well as it isn’t absorbed into the skin, and warming it makes it liquefy. Be sure to wash your hands after touching or using any hot peppers, it will transfer to eyes, mouth or nose and be very uncomfortable.
- Herbal Supplements: There are several herbal supplements that work well to help with arthritis pain and inflammation. These include glucosamine, chondroiton and capsaicin. The best forms are those that have few additives and have very little processed preservatives. Your natural health food store is one of the best places to find them.
Alternative Forms Of Treatment
Instead of medications, you can do some alternative treatments. These include:
- Acupuncture: Acupuncture is the insertion of needles into pressure points on the skin, this pressure on certain points and can help with some arthritis pain.
- Massage/Reflexology: Massages give everyone a feel good factor and massaging the joints give you a feel good factor as well as helping damaged tissue recover. Reflexology is a system of massage used to relieve tension and treat illness. There are people who have training and years of experience in being able to massage areas to relieve others, I suggest you go to them then replicate the pressure points and techniques at home after.
- Hot/Cold Therapy: Hot and cold treatment uses the simple laws of physics in order to treat swelling. Heating can be used to expand the affected area, relax ligaments and tendons and then cold can be applied to reduce the swelling.