Osteoarthritis (OA) is the most common form of arthritis, affecting an estimated 27 million adults in the United States and causing pain and stiffness in the joints, particularly in the knees, hips, hands, and neck. While this often leads to joint replacement surgery or drug treatments such as NSAIDs and other anti-inflammatory medications, there are several home remedies that can help you manage your symptoms without expensive medical bills or potentially dangerous drugs. Here are ten of them.
Get more Calcium
Calcium is an important nutrient for bone health, and most people don’t get enough. Research shows that eating more calcium-rich foods may be associated with lower rates of osteoarthritis, possibly because calcium reduces inflammation. Dairy products are a great source of calcium, so make sure you eat plenty of yogurt and cheese.
Do more exercises
Exercise is one of the best ways to reduce symptoms of osteoarthritis. Try mixing and matching workouts in order to make them as unique as you are. Swimming, yoga, and walking are all great exercises that can help reduce your symptoms of osteoarthritis.
Eat more fish
Eating fish high in omega-3 fatty acids has shown some promising evidence for relieving symptoms of osteoarthritis. Tuna, salmon, mackerel and trout are among your best options. Omega-3s can also be found in walnuts, flaxseeds and chia seeds. Even if you’re not a big fan of seafood or other sources of omega-3s, it won’t hurt to sneak more fish oil into your diet.
Reduce stress levels
The stress hormone, cortisol, is known for its inflammatory effects on joints. When you’re under stress, levels of cortisol increase and boost the production of pro-inflammatory agents. This further inflames your body and joints, worsening your condition. Luckily, there are a few things you can do to keep stress levels low (and hence reduce inflammation). Try a warm bath before bedtime or light exercise like walking. In addition, try these 10 natural remedies for reducing stress.
Improve your posture
Good posture can help you hold your body in better alignment, which may reduce stress on your joints. When walking or standing, try to make sure that your head is upright and pulled back slightly, shoulders are down and relaxed (but not slumped), hips are balanced over knees and ankles, back is straight (not bent) and stomach muscles are contracted. Get feedback on your posture from friends or family; those closest to you are likely to notice a difference before you do.
By now we all know that smoking is bad for our health, but if you’re a smoker suffering from osteoarthritis, it’s even more crucial you kick your habit. Smoking can raise blood pressure and heart rate, affecting circulation in your hands and joints. Further research suggests that nicotine may worsen symptoms of osteoarthritis by negatively impacting cartilage cell structure and function.
Use knee support when doing heavy work
It’s important to wear support around your knee when you know that you’re going to be doing a lot of bending, lifting, or kneeling. These supports will help cushion your knee joints and eliminate strain on them as well. If you experience pain in your knees, try wearing support and see if it helps. You can get some from any medical supply store or online pharmacy.
Try Epsom salt baths
Epsom salt is made from magnesium and sulfate. Magnesium is a natural analgesic and can help reduce swelling in your joints. Sulfate, on the other hand, has been shown to reduce inflammation, which is one of the leading causes of arthritis pain. To reap these benefits at home, simply dissolve two cups of Epsom salt into a hot bath of water and soak for 15 minutes. Repeat three times a week.
Try natural remedies such as ginger and turmeric extract
Ginger and turmeric are inexpensive, natural ingredients that have proven pain-relieving properties. For example, in a 2013 study published in Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, researchers tested ginger on rats with osteoarthritis. After eight weeks of treatment, researchers found that ginger led to a 30 per cent reduction in inflammation and stiffness.
If you have osteoarthritis, your doctor may prescribe painkillers, anti-inflammatory medications or steroid injections. If these remedies don’t work, surgery is another option. An arthroscopy can sometimes be used to remove bone spurs and smooth out joints. Replacing your joint with an artificial one can relieve pain. Or, doctors may use a synthetic filler material called hyaluronic acid (HA) to fill in pockets of cartilage that have been worn away by osteoarthritis.
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