It may sound like a contradiction, but exercise and weight loss top the list of the best natural remedies for arthritis pain. Learn more.
Arthritis can be painful. Stiff muscles and joints can hurt so much that you won’t want to move. It may sound like a contradiction, but exercise can lessen arthritic pain. Add weight loss, and you may even get rid of all of those aching symptoms naturally.
Exercise and weight loss go hand-in-hand. Physical activity includes walking, swimming, cycling, and strength training. These exercises increase strength and flexibility, reducing joint pain. Pair exercise with dieting, and you have the best natural remedies for arthritis.
Lifestyle changes that can help
Roy Altman, MD, a rheumatologist and professor of medicine at the University of California, Los Angeles, recommends losing weight to reduce or even get rid of arthritic pain. According to Altman, every pound you lose means less pressure on your joints. If you lose between 10 and 20 pounds, you’ll see a difference. “Some people will even see their symptoms disappear,” he said.
Other natural remedies for arthritis
- Acupuncture can diminish pain by releasing tight, spasmed, shortened muscles to their resting state. Acupuncture also releases endorphins, which are natural pain fighters.
- Capsaicin is the heat producing component found in chili peppers. It’s made into a cream and sold in drug stores as a natural remedy for arthritis. A number of studies showed that it reduces pain from osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, and fibromyalgia. If you opt for this natural remedy, it may burn slightly when you first use it. Just rub a tiny amount — about the size of a nickel — onto the affected area.
- Stimulating the muscle in your knees with electricity, called transcutaneous electrostimulation or TENS, has been successful. Similar to this is electroacupuncture, which uses needles attached to electrodes to pass a small electric charge through the acupuncture needles. It’s not painful; some patients say it feels like getting a mild electric shock.
- Seeing a physical therapist is useful if you feel too weak to move. Just make sure the physical therapist has experience working with people who have arthritis.
- Canes, splints, and braces that redistribute your weight and take pressure off your joints can help. Talk to your doctor about getting one of these devices.
- Turmeric acts as an anti-inflammatory, according to the Arthritis Foundation. It’s a mild spice used mostly in Indian food. You can sprinkle it on meats and vegetables while cooking. It also comes in vitamin form, which is more concentrated. A capsule can contain between 400 mg and 600 mg. You can take it one to three times per day.
- Studies have shown that magnesium tablets and foods high in magnesium strengthen bones and maintain nerves, muscle functions, and joint cartilage. Recommended daily dosage is 420 mg for men and 320 mg for women. Foods that contain magnesium include almonds, cashews, peanuts, peanut butter, soybeans, spinach, beans, potatoes, and whole grains.
- Extra virgin olive oil acts as a lubricant. It’s an anti-inflammatory, and it contains the polyphenols oleocanthal, oeluropein, hydroxytyrosol, and lignans, which have been linked to reduced joint damage for people with rheumatoid arthritis. Use it when cooking meats and vegetables. You can also drizzle some over your favorite pastas.
- Juniper berry tea, which can be found at health food stores or in the health section of some grocery stores, contains terpinen-4-ol; it reduces inflammation due to rheumatoid arthritis. You can drink two cups per day. Do not drink juniper berry tea if you are pregnant.
- Massage greatly benefits people with arthritis. Whether you go to a licensed massage therapist or do-it-yourself at home, it’s a wonderful natural remedy for arthritis. Massage has been proven to rid the body of pain and stiffness.
As with any natural remedy, be sure to talk to your doctor before use.
March 18, 2020
Christopher Nystuen, MD, MBA