Arthritis is caused by the degeneration of cartilage around the joints. There are a number of reasons for why arthritis occurs, such as natural aging, trauma and immune disorders. Whatever the cause, arthritis can be painful and have a damaging effect on one’s lifestyle. Because of the nature of arthritis, it’s most common in the elderly.
If you have been struggling with osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis, there are natural ways to cope with the symptoms without putting more medications into your body.
The first place to start is with your diet. Consider that everything you put into your body has some type of effect. Having a well-balanced diet is a key component to any healthy lifestyle in general, but there are certain foods that have been linked to a reduction in arthritic symptoms.
Omega 3 fatty acids have anti-inflammatory properties that reduce inflammation and swelling in the joints. Foods that contain omega 3s include fish, flaxseed, kiwi and nuts. Whole grains, legumes, nuts and fish contain selenium, a powerful mineral that has antioxidant properties. Eggs, whole milk and fish are excellent sources of Vitamin D, which can prevent arthritis from progressing quickly. As you can see, eating foods like nuts and fish have dual benefits, so you should try to incorporate these foods when possible.
The painful symptoms of arthritis coupled with other symptoms of growing older can make one want to stay in bed all day. Yet this doesn’t do anyone any good, so it’s time to get up and get moving if you want to treat some of your arthritic symptoms. Exercise builds strength, and strength minimizes the effects of arthritis. Once you get used to exercising, you will also lose the fear of placing more stress on the joints and being in pain. Aim for exercises that are low-impact and strength building, including swimming, water aerobics, walking, yoga and stretching exercises.
A direct benefit of exercise is weight loss. If you’ve struggled with weight for quite some time, now is a great time to work toward shaving off excess pounds. Even a few pounds can make a difference since it’s less weight placed on joints like the knees and ankles. Studies have shown that if people lose 10 to 20 pounds, they see their arthritic symptoms decrease or subside entirely.
If you follow a healthy diet and exercise regularly, weight loss will be a natural outcome that will ease pain and discomfort.
Since pain is the most common effect of arthritis, acupuncture can be a very effective treatment. Acupuncture prompts the body to release endorphins, which are the body’s natural painkillers.
Acupuncture also blocks the transmission of pain signals in the brain and neutralizes trigger points on the body that are known for causing pain and discomfort.
Finally, acupuncture has a calming effect on the body at large, and this form of relaxation can help strengthen and repair the body. Acupuncture is not for everyone, however, and some seniors who are set in their ways may find this alternative treatment to be too “out of the box.” Nevertheless, it’s a wonderful, non-invasive and safe method for treating pain.
Glucosamine and chondroitin are the leading natural remedies for those living with arthritis. It’s important that if you choose to take these supplements, you not only speak to your doctor, but also check to make sure you’re taking the right forms of these remedies.
For example, glucosamine hydrochloride, which is primarily sold in the United States, is not effective at treating the symptoms of arthritis, while glucosamine sulfate is. Both help to slow the progression of arthritis and have no major risks or side effects. Other natural remedies to try include fish oil and avocado and soybean oils, although the studies surrounding these supplements are less promising than glucosamine and chondroitin.