Is joint pain giving you sleepless nights lately? If you cannot move properly and are clueless about its causes, you probably suffer from osteoarthritis. Terrible pain and stiffness associated with this condition take a toll on your mobility and affect the quality of your life. However, if you are diagnosed with osteoarthritis and believe that traditional treatment is the only option, you are wrong. Apart from medication, physical therapy, complementary and alternative (CAM) treatments, etc., there are also natural treatments and home remedies that you can consider to relieve this painful condition. To know more, read this article till the end.
What Is Osteoarthritis?
Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis, which is also known to be one of the significant causes of pain and disability across the globe. ‘Osteoarthritis’ combines three Greek words: ‘ bone’, ‘joint’, and ‘inflammation’. It is a clinical syndrome of joint pain, which often comes with different degrees of functional limitation that lower the ability to perform day-to-day activities. It is also characterized by the remodeling of bones adjacent to the affected joints and its inflammation. Osteoarthritis also takes a toll on the quality of life by affecting an individual’s mood, sleep, and overall health. The knee joint, hip joint, hand joint, and spine are the most common body areas troubled by this condition. (1)
Causes Of Osteoarthritis
Osteoarthritis is identified by the localized breakage and the loss of ‘joint cartilage‘ or ‘articular cartilage’, which works as a structural component of the body. Being the connective tissue present at the end of the bones, it allows for the smooth movement of bones by separating and cushioning the joints. If there is a loss of cartilage, the bones start rubbing against each other, and the joints get irritated. (2) This leads to inflammation, the hardening of bones beneath the cartilage, and the growth of bones around the joints. Some of the most common underlying causes of this non-inflammatory arthritis are heredity, physical and emotional stress, dietary insufficiencies, hormonal imbalance, prolonged low-grade inflammation, traumas beyond the ability of the body to repair, structural transformation in joints (formation of cysts and bony spurs), etc.
Symptoms Of Osteoarthritis
Though osteoarthritis can affect the joints in any part of the body, it mainly affects hands, knees, hips, back, and neck. Common symptoms of the condition include acute pain and extreme discomfort in joints, increased pain in the evening, morning stiffness (improves with movement), swelling and tenderness in joints with each use, sounds (clicking or cracking) in joints on movement, worsening of pain with the overuse of joints, bony lumps in finger joints, loss of joint flexibility, and reduced mobility. (3)
Natural Treatments For Osteoarthritis
The symptoms of osteoarthritis can be minimized by opting for several complementary healing methods and making simple lifestyle changes. Check out what can be done to handle the condition naturally. (4) (5)
1. Practice Restorative Exercises
No matter how much it hurts, exercise is essential to keep your joints moving and improve your painful condition. As your cartilage does not have enough blood circulation, you must move it gently to squeeze the debris out of it and help it absorb nutrients. When you start practicing gentle restorative exercises like walking, yoga, tai chi, massaging, etc., you strengthen your muscles to provide proper support as well as protection to your affected joints. Moreover, the practice keeps the joints flexible, restores their normal functionalities, and improves mobility by reducing pain.
2. Apply Hot Or Cold Packs
Both hot and cold compresses are proven to be beneficial in minimizing the impact of joint pain and inflammation in osteoarthritis patients. Heat lowers pain and stiffness while cold reduces swelling. A warm or cold towel can be used to compress for this purpose. In addition, taking an ice bath or trying an infrared sauna twice every week can reduce muscle pain or spasms surrounding the joints.
3. Maintain A Healthy Weight
Losing additional fat and maintaining healthy body weight are essential for easing and alleviating the symptoms of osteoarthritis. The excess weight of the body builds a lot of strain on the weight-bearing joints of your body, including the spine, knees, hips, feet, etc. So, try losing weight step by step by eating smaller portions and burning extra calories. Even a slight decrease in your weight will also improve the functioning of your joints.
4. Follow A Balanced Diet
Studies have proved that a well-balanced diet rich in different nutrients can help you feel a lot better. So make sure that your diet contains plenty of whole grains, leafy greens, fresh vegetables (broccoli, avocado, etc.), citrus fruits rich in vitamin C, low-fat dairy loaded with calcium and vitamin D, lean meat (turkey and pork tenderloin), fish full of omega-3 fatty acids (tuna, salmon, mackerel), plant-based oils (avocado oil, olive oil, safflower oil, canola oil, walnut oil), nuts, and so on.
While eating a balanced diet, you should also avoid certain foods like rice, white bread, sugar, artificial sweetener, salt, saturated and trans fat, alcohol, etc. that raise inflammation in the body.
5. Get Adequate Sleep Daily
A good night’s sleep is considered vital for dealing with the stress and pain of osteoarthritis. If you feel uncomfortable while sleeping due to aches or stiffness, try using pillows under the painful joints to take the pressure off them. Going to bed at the same time daily is also recommended.
6. Wear Electric Gloves
Using electric gloves can help you cope with the stiffness and pain of osteoarthritis at the bed. They provide proper support to your bones while heating the tissue and encouraging blood circulation to them.
7. Use Warm Blankets
Watch out for your sleep, and do not expose your joints, especially in winter. Keeping them covered by a warm blanket will give you relief from the pain to some extent. If ordinary blankets are not good enough, opt for electric blankets for better warmth.
Home Remedies For Osteoarthritis
There are also home remedies for problems like osteoarthritis, which are much safer than traditional medicines as they only have fewer side effects. Here are some of those remedies that you can try at home.
Antioxidant-rich foods can reduce accelerated joint damage in osteoarthritis patients by stopping cartilage degradation. Some of the best sources of antioxidants are colorful veggies, berries, green tea, aloe vera juice, citrus fruits, tomatoes, guava, broccoli, blackcurrants, parsley, pawpaw, brussels sprouts, and non-denatured whey protein powder.
10. Gut-Healing Foods
If you suffer from a gut imbalance, your entire body will suffer low-grade inflammation. Hence, stop gorging on trans fats, processed sugar, and synthetic additives that can damage your gut even more. Also, start having foods that can heal your gut and promote your health. These include fermented items (sauerkraut, kimchi, kombucha), probiotics, and butter.
11. Cartilage-Building Foods
Try to include some natural sources of collagen in your diet. For example, bone broth is a direct source of collagen and comprises lots of vital vitamins and minerals. Daily consumption of 2 cups of homemade bone broth can also reduce inflammation and increase joint mobility by providing anti-inflammatory substances like chondroitin and glucosamine to your body. Cruciferous vegetables like cabbage, broccoli, kale, etc., are also helpful in building healthy joints when steamed or lightly cooked.
- Keep a tab on the timings of your medicine and have them without fail.
- Get your tests done regularly to monitor your health and ensure that everything is fine.
- Keep a doctor-recommended topical pain-relieving cream handy.
- Imbibe a positive attitude towards life and focus on things that keep you happy.
- “Osteoarthritis” – clevelandclinic.org
- “Osteoarthritis” – mayoclinic.org
- “Osteoarthritis Health Center” – webmd.com
- “Natural Home Remedies for Osteoarthritis: What Works?” – healthline.com
- “Natural treatments for osteoarthritis” – ncbi.nlm.nih.gov