We are all roughly with the term “arthritis” – the umbrella term for conditions that cause pain in the joints. While associated with old age, this is not always the case, especially given that there are many things that can cause joint pains. Unfortunately, modern medicine does not offer a cure, it only offers pain management. Even as we take anti-inflammatory medication and painkillers, we might want to consider complementary treatments to alleviate pain. Here are 6 accessible treatments that you may wish to consider.
Regular massages can relieve pain by soothing the nervous system and switching off pain signals, giving your body some respite. Massage for arthritis also encourages the release of endorphins which are natural painkillers. Most sufferers admit that having massage brings an instant pain relief and helps them refocus their mind away from the discomfort.
Another benefit of regular massage for arthritis is an increase in blood flow and improvement of circulation. Clearing the affected tissue by-products caused by arthritis, massages have a positive effect on releasing swelling and slowing down the inflammation. A boost of the blood flow also supplies the joints and muscles with necessary nutrients and oxygen. Regular massage sessions can improve the lubrication that your body produces. All of these ensure that the joints can move more freely and smoothly.
Arthritis forces muscles around affected joints to work harder to provide necessary stability and support. Overuse of muscles and tendons causes stiffness and additional pain. The inflammation of joints can also spread into soft tissues causing further discomfort and damage. Massages can help to alleviate this by giving you more muscle movement and flexibility.
Exercising can be very painful for those who suffer from arthritis. However, staying active is an important part of slowing down the arthritic degeneration. Massage helps to relax muscles and sooth the joints. This releases a lot of discomfort and encourages you to stay as active as possible.
2. Hot /Cold Therapies
Heat and cold treatments can help relieve arthritis pain and inflammation.
- Heat treatments can include taking a long, warm shower or bath in the morning to help ease stiffness and using heated blankets, hot water bottles or moist heating pads to reduce discomfort overnight.
- Cold treatments can help relieve joint pain, swelling, and inflammation. Wrap an icepack or a bag of frozen vegetables in a towel and apply it to painful joints for quick relief. Never apply ice directly to the skin.
- Capsaicin, which comes from chilli peppers, is a component of some topical ointments and creams that you can buy over the counter. These products provide warmth that can soothe joint pain
As the saying goes – “mind over matter.”
Meditation and relaxation techniques may help reduce the pain of arthritis by lowering stress and enabling you to cope with it better.
According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), studies have found that practising mindfulness meditation is helpful for some people suffering from arthritic pain.
Yoga loosens the joints to improve flexibility and improve range of motion. It also leads to the release of hormones that bring on a feeling of general wellbeing. Someone who has arthritis should keep the following things in mind while doing yoga:
- Begin with a gentle yoga or flow class that allows participants to move through poses in short amounts of time. This loosens the joints without applying unnecessary pressure.
- A person should speak to the instructor beforehand, if possible, to let them know they have arthritis and may need to move through a pose more quickly.
- Try to practice yoga later in the day, after joints have had a chance to loosen up.
5. Tai Chi
Movement is an effective strategy for dealing with pain from arthritis. Tai Chi is the practice of fluid and gentle movements and offers different styles for people at all fitness levels.
A 2016 study found that people who participated in tai chi had less depression symptoms and improved quality of life compared with those who participated in a stretching and education program.
Swimming provides gentle resistance while still being easy on the joints due to the decreased effect of gravity on the body’s movements.
The pain of arthritis makes some people avoid moving affected joints. Over time, however, inactivity has a negative impact on the joints. This can lead to muscular atrophy and ligaments losing range of motion.
Exercising in water is a gentle way to move the impacted joint and maintain muscle strength.
Always consult a medical health professional if ever in doubt.