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Natural Approaches for Managing Arthritis

According to the Arthritis Foundation, over 50 million adults and around 300,000 children in the U.S. have been diagnosed with arthritis. Even worse, it has been estimated that the total number of people with arthritis will jump to over 78 million by the year 2040. It’s the leading cause of disability in the nation and a condition that affects men, women, and children of all races and ages.

Photo credit: handarmdoc via Flickr

Many doctors are quick to prescribe painkillers and anti-inflammatory medications, but these remedies often only mask the symptoms without treating the underlying problem. However, a natural approach may reduce the risk of side effects caused by pharmaceuticals. Here are some of the most effective natural ways to manage the symptoms of arthritis.

Lose Weight and Exercise

Although this may be the hardest treatment strategy to actually pull off, it is certainly one of the best. Each pound that you carry puts strain on your joints and makes arthritis pain more severe. By losing 10 or 20 pounds, you could see a drastic improvement in the pain you feel on a daily basis.

Exercise is also recommended for people with arthritis because it aids in weight loss and keeps the joints mobile and limber. Low-impact exercises, like walking on dirt trails and swimming laps, are typically best for people with arthritis pain.

Eat Ginger, Turmeric and Other Anti-Inflammatory Foods

Anti-inflammatory foods, like ginger and turmeric, should be a significant part of an arthritis sufferer’s diet. Try to incorporate these foods into your daily meals and eat raw, unprocessed versions of them when possible for the greatest potency.

Photo credit: Tony Hisgett via Flickr

Eat More Omega-3 Foods

Another nutrient that arthritis sufferers need in their daily diets is omega-3 fatty acids. Studies have shown that foods rich in omega-3s promote joint health and mobility. You can consume omega-3s by eating fish, nuts, and seeds. For further joint support, try natural fish liver oil, pure shark cartilage, or shark liver oil supplements.

Vitamin Supplements and Herbs

Natural health professionals have recommended other types of vitamin supplements and herbal remedies to manage arthritis as well. Commonly recommended herbs include bromelain, ginkgo, stinging nettle, boswellia, SAM-e (S-adenosylmethionine), capsaicin, and gamma linolenic acid (GLA). Always talk with your doctor before trying a new supplement to ease arthritis symptoms.

Acupuncture and Chiropractic Care

Many arthritis sufferers have found relief by trying acupuncture treatments, and science backs up their claims. Although being pricked with needles certainly isn’t for everyone, it has shown to be quite effective for people with osteoarthritis.

Similarly, chiropractic care seems to be helpful for many people who suffer from arthritis pain. The type of body work that chiropractors do involves gentle manipulations of the neck, back, and spinal column, possibly as well as physical therapy and relaxation therapies. Getting a therapeutic massage from a professional well-versed in arthritis management can also be very relieving.

Hot and Cold Therapies

One of the oldest, easiest, and most natural ways to alleviate pain is by simply using well-timed heat and ice. If you wake up with stiff joints in the morning, try taking a hot shower or warm bath to loosen up. A heating pad may alleviate chronic stiffness later in the day. For acute joint pain after movement, try an ice pack or bag of frozen peas at the site of pain.

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