From osteoarthritis to rheumatoid arthritis and more, arthritis is the leading cause of disability in America.1 So if you’re one of 50 million adults living with this disease, you’ve no doubt spent quite a lot of time searching for any and every kind of arthritis treatment out there. While there is currently no cure, using a product like Voltaren Arthritis Pain Gel (which works to relieve the pain of osteoarthritis when applied to the affected area) in conjunction with the natural remedies listed below is a great way to provide your body—and mind—with some relief.
If you’re thinking, “sign me up, please,” read on for a few natural remedies for rheumatoid arthritis that have been shown to ease symptoms of arthritis pain, and then talk to your doctor about developing a personalized plan for sustainable pain management.
1. Yoga & Mindfulness
It’s not uncommon for those of us who have never tried yoga to believe it’s only for limber, flexible people who can easily tie themselves into knots (while upside down, no less!), but that couldn’t be further from the truth. Beginner yoga classes typically contain simple, gentle movements2 that can build strength, flexibility, and balance over time. Some small studies even suggest that yoga3 may benefit people living with arthritis when it comes to pain, function, mood, and energy. Although more research has to be done to establish yoga alone as a bona fide natural remedy for arthritis, it may prove helpful when worked into an overall treatment plan. Of course, one of the best side effects of practicing yoga is that it can help build mindfulness. By practicing breathing techniques and meditation, individuals also tackle symptoms of stress, which can contribute to bodily inflammation and pain. With just a little bit of practice, you may just find yourself downward dogging with the best of them.
2. Walking & Low-Impact Exercise
When knees or hips are feeling stiff, the last thing many of us want to do is to get up off the couch and start moving around, but research4 suggests that both walking and muscle-strengthening exercises can help “reduce pain and disability” in people with arthritis. It’s always the things we don’t want to do that are good for us, right? So try to put down that remote control, lace up those sneakers, and get moving. If you’d prefer a physical activity outside of walking, consider swimming or light aerobics. Swimming can be a wonderful form of exercise that is easier on your joints than other activities. Find a local pool and make the most of this wonderful full-body workout, without putting too much strain on your body.
Another excellent low-impact exercise is cycling. Strap on your helmet and find a beautiful trail nearby for a scenic ride that will be easier on your body than other forms of high-intensity exercise. Not only is this an excellent way to build stamina and strength, it’s also a wonderful way to clear your mind and explore new areas.
Be sure to talk to your doctor first about your specific issues and goals before jumping into any workout or exercise plan. And remember, Netflix will always be there when you get back!
3. Massage Therapy
As if you needed an excuse for a spa day! For those dealing with arthritis symptoms, a massage can actually be so much more than just a relaxing activity that helps you forget about all the realities of daily life, like those bills you haven’t paid and work emails you still need to send. Studies suggest5 that massage may reduce pain for those dealing with both rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis. If you’re interested in starting up a regular massage routine, consult with your physician or rheumatologist to make sure you’re a good candidate for this natural remedy. If so, prepare to escape into the relaxing abyss and let the relief begin.
This ancient Chinese medical treatment can be an excellent natural remedy for arthritis and folks suffering from bodily pain. Acupuncture uses thin, individual needles to target points of energy in the body and help restore flow and function. A licensed acupuncturist may also be knowledgeable in other natural remedies to help you cope with pain by recommending herbs and other treatments. Often times, going to a session allows individuals to relax their bodies and explore alternative ways of coping with ailments.
5. Hot and Cold Therapy
Both hot and cold therapies6 can provide short-term symptom relief for arthritis pain when used appropriately. Warming methods like a hot bath or heating pad can help decrease inflammation and relax muscles that feel tight, while performing an “ice massage” on yourself (which basically means rubbing ice over the affected area) or using cold packs on your shoulders or back may help relieve soreness. Feel free to ask a significant other, family member, or friend if you need help making it through the ice massage—sometimes forcing yourself into ice can be tough because it gets so chilly! (You should avoid use of external heat such as heating pads where you have applied Voltaren. If you have any concerns about mixing hot and cold therapy with other medications or pharmaceuticals, please speak with your doctor first.)
6. Healthy Diet Changes
While studies about “arthritis friendly diets“ (including the use of supplements) are ongoing, researchers seem to agree: being overweight7 can be a major risk factor for osteoarthritis; low vitamin D levels may be linked to an increased risk of osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis; and eating a Mediterranean-style diet can help curb inflammation8. According to the Arthritis Foundation, eating anti-inflammatory foods, such as fruits, nuts, seeds, and beans, may also have benefits for arthritis symptoms. Fish, vegetables and olive oil have anti-inflammatory properties, too, and are options to consider when shopping at the grocery store.9 Talk with your doctor about the appropriate diet for your type of arthritis to come up with a meal plan that may help.
We hope this list of natural remedies for arthritis proves handy as you develop a plan for pain management. For more information on living with arthritis and coping with it at home or in social situations, be sure to visit the Voltaren site.