Arthritis is inflammation of the joints. It is mainly of two types – Osteoarthritis and Rheumatoid Arthritis.
Osteoarthritis occurs when the cartilage (the cushioning tissue within the joints) wears down. This produces stiffness and pain. Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is an autoimmune disease that leads to inflammation of the joints. It occurs when the immune system turns against the body.
The pains of arthritis rob us of our mobility and ability to live our lives fully. Therefore it becomes very essential to learn its management well. The focus of treatment for arthritis is to control pain, minimize joint damage, and improve or maintain function and quality of life.
Some natural ways to treat arthritis –
1. Acupuncture – It is a popular form of complementary and alternative therapy. This technique stimulates specific acupoints. Pain is the primary complaint of arthritis sufferers, and acupuncture is a very effective form of pain control. Through the stimulation of endorphin (chemicals) production it inhibits the perception of pain.
2. Natural Herbs
- Willow bark – This herb has pain-relieving and anti-inflammatory effects and works like an aspirin to reduce pain and swelling. It contains salicylic acid that is also found in aspirin. One must drink 3 to 4 cups of this tea to benefit from its use. Add 1 to 2 teaspoons of white willow bark to water & allow it to boil for about 5 to 10 minutes. Once it has boiled, turn off the heat and allow it to steep for around 20 minutes. You can add honey to it before drinking.
- Celery Seeds – It is an effective anti-inflammatory herb that can be used as a complementary medicine during conventional treatment for rheumatoid arthritis. You can sprinkle it over sandwich fillings or add it to soups or vegetable dishes. It is a common and delicious spice that can add flavor to any dish.
- Dandelion Root – Dandelion tea has specific action in reducing inflammation and is useful for rheumatism and arthritis. It is believed to flush the toxins that inflame the muscles and joints from the body.
3. Foods to include in daily diet – A healthy diet can help you manage your arthritis. Although a change in the diet cannot cure arthritis, certain foods have been shown to fight inflammation, strengthen bones and boost the immune system. Adding these foods to your balanced diet may help ease the symptoms of your arthritis. Limit sugar, processed foods and saturated fat – the kind in red meat and butter.
Vitamin D deficiency is linked to rheumatoid arthritis.
Natural food sources of Vitamin D include fish oils, fatty fish, cheese, egg yolks, and certain mushrooms. They benefit by helping muscle health. Strong muscles around the joints can ease some of the discomfort caused by arthritis. Also, spend some time in the sun. Vitamin D is also naturally made by your body when you expose your skin to the sun.
- Broccoli – this cruciferous vegetable is stuffed with vitamins A, B, K, C, as well as nutrients such as potassium, zinc and fiber. It contains sulfur compounds which in high amounts may slow the progression of osteoarthritis and reduce inflammation.
- Omega 3 fatty acid rich foods – Fish, walnuts, canola oil, soya beans help suppress inflammatory chemicals.
- Magnesium – This mineral is helpful to relax muscles and ease pain. You must eat foods that are high in magnesium, like dark leafy greens (spinach), nuts, and legumes (beans.)
4. Heat & Cold Therapy – applying heat to a painful joint can provide significant relief. For heat sources, you can use electric blankets, heating pads, or hot packs. Heat treatment stimulates blood circulation, and reduces muscle spasms while also altering the sensation of pain. Cold treatments also work equally well when joints are inflamed. Wrap an ice cube in a towel or washcloth, and press it to the sore joint. Alternatively, you can use a a bag of frozen vegetables. Cold compress reduces swelling by constricting blood vessels.
5. Physical activity and weight management are important and can help manage the pain and stiffness from arthritis.