6 Tips to Help You Manage Your Arthritis
Arthritis is an umbrella term that encompasses 100 different conditions that cause inflammation of the joints. The main symptoms of arthritis are swelling, pain, limited range of motion, and stiffness, which can range from mild to crippling and debilitating.1 Many traditional treatments for arthritis focus solely on reducing pain with medication, but taking an integrative approach to arthritis management can also be helpful.
Regular movement is essential to keeping joints flexible and increasing blood flow to areas stiffened with arthritis. Although it may be challenging to exercise with pain, it is important to keep moving as much as possible. Walking or swimming can be good options because they are both low impact on the joints. Weight training and regular stretching can also help keep joints and muscles strong, but flexible.
A well-balanced, anti-inflammatory diet can help reduce pain and provide nutritional support to muscles and joints. Eating a diet high in antioxidants from fruits and vegetables can be a great place to start. Additionally, reducing inflammatory foods, such as refined grains, fried foods, or foods high in refined sugar may help.
There is some evidence that the removal of nightshade vegetables from the diet (tomatoes, eggplant, potatoes) may help lower inflammation, but the results may depend on the individual.2
Sleep is one of the most important health habits, as it allows the body to restore and repair itself. Adequate sleep lowers inflammation and helps with stress management. Research has found a correlation between increased pain and joint stiffness with poor sleep in people with arthritis.3 This is probably no surprise because it is difficult to sleep if you are in pain. Speak to your doctor for suggestions to get better sleep.
4. Water Therapy
Hydrotherapy can be quite therapeutic for people with arthritis. Warm water helps muscles relax and reduces stiffness, while cold water can lower inflammation. A 2012 review on hydrotherapy and arthritis found that it helped reduce pain and stiffness, improved mood, and increased grip strength.4 The great thing about water therapy is that it can be easily done in the comfort of your own home with a relaxing bath.
Anti-inflammatory supplements may also help manage arthritis symptoms. Supplements like omega-3 fatty acids, green tea, and curcumin all have anti-inflammatory properties and may help reduce pain and swelling caused by arthritis.5,6,7,8,9 Check out this article for a summary of the research on curcumin and osteoarthritis.
6. Acupuncture and Massage
Acupuncture and massage have both been shown to be beneficial for people with arthritis to promote relaxation and pain relief. Acupuncture, in particular electroacupuncture, may help reduce pain and increase endorphins in people with arthritis.10 Massage can also help maintain joint mobility, relieve tension, and improve circulation.
The goal of taking an integrative approach to arthritis treatment is to help manage the pain and inflammation from many angles. Although arthritis is not curable, symptoms can be managed with a combined lifestyle and medical approach.
- Arthritis Foundation: Understanding Arthritis.
- Journal of Orthomolecular Medicine. 2015;30(1):13-21.
- Rheumatology. 1998;37(1):71-81.
- Musculoskeletal Care. 2013;11(1):3-18.
- Molecular and Cell Biology of Lipids. 2015;1851(4):469-484.
- Life Sciences. 2010;86(25-26): 907-918.
- Phytotherapy Research; Volume 28, Issue 11, November 2014, Pages 1625-1631.
- Panminerva Med. 2010 Jun;52(2 Suppl 1):55-62. PMID: 20657536.
- Altern Med Rev. 2010 Dec;15(4):337-44. PMID: 21194249.
- Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, 2005.
- Blog Contributor