Osteoarthritis occurs when a person ages and their joints are affected by not only their age, but also because of an injury that has occurred in the past or recently as well as obesity. Typically, the condition presents with joint pain and stiffness.
It can occur in the hand, wrist, back, hip, knee and neck. Anywhere you have a joint in your body, you can get osteoarthritis. The inflammation of the joint causes the issue, sometimes so severe that the sufferer can not walk.
In order to treat osteoarthritis, the first step is to consider what area of the body is most severely afflicted. Different treatments can be helpful for different areas affected by osteoarthritis. What may be helpful for hip pain due to osteoarthritis may not be beneficial when it comes to neck or back pain.
Types of Osteoarthritis And Areas Affected
Osteoarthritis is divided into two types: primary, which affects the fingers, spine, hips and knees and is a generalized condition, and secondary, which affects a specific area and typically occurs after an injury or due to a certain condition the individual suffers from that affects a specific area of the body.
Osteoarthritis of the hip tends to impede efforts to walk and is usually connected to age, being overweight or even having joints that never formed properly.
This can be a fluke of nature or related to genetic issues in the family tree. People also may have put too much stress on the hip due to their weight or to overexerting themselves in certain activities.
Symptoms of Osteoarthritis
There are several symptoms that go along with the diagnosis of Osteoarthritis. Those symptoms include pain, both during and after movement, around the joint.
It also can include tenderness and stiffness, loss of flexibility of the joint and even bone spurs. The last possible symptom can be a grating sensation within the joint as you try to go about your regular activities.
Risk Factors for This Condition
Osteoarthritis can be more likely for people with certain factors apparent in their lives. Those factors include:
Age: As you age, the risk of osteoarthritis increases.
Gender: This condition is more likely to affect women than men. However, men are also affected by the condition.
Obesity: Being heavier than the recommended weight for your height puts additional stress on your body. This can lead to conditions like osteoarthritis. For best results follow a healthy diet plan and avoid over indulging in your diet.
Joint Injury: For those who are more active as they age, injuries can occur due to sports or an accident of some kind. These injuries can make your joints more vulnerable to a condition like osteoarthritis. Even if it’s been years since your injury, you are at a higher risk for osteoarthritis if you’ve ever injured a joint at all.
Genetics: Some families seem to pass down the tendency to deal with osteoarthritis. This doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re going to come down with osteoarthritis, however, you will be pre dispositioned to it so you should keep this in mind when you’re doing activities that may increase your risk of the condition.
Bone Deformation: For those who are born with issues like defective cartilage or joints that never formed properly, the onset of osteoarthritis is more likely. It’s always wise to take precautions to not further injure or damage joints that may contribute to the condition.
Certain Illnesses: For those who suffer from diabetes or gout, there is an increased risk of osteoarthritis. If you do suffer from diabetes or gout, follow your doctor’s instructions to help reduce the risk of further damage to your joints.
Why Turn to Natural Remedies?
Medication can cause side effects and can also build up in the body, creating illness or a negative impact you will then need to treat or resolve to improve your health. With natural remedies, the pain and symptoms of osteoarthritis are resolved, and there are no side effects to handle afterward.
Typically, the pain associated with osteoarthritis is the main focus of any natural remedies. However, it’s important to be aware that many natural remedies, especially supplements, may interact in a negative fashion with medications that you’re already taking.
Always check with your doctor prior to starting on any natural supplements to ensure that you won’t be mixing two items that can have negative effects upon your health.
Your doctor is the best advice you can get when it comes to this so never think that a supplement won’t hurt unless you’ve first checked with your doctor regarding possible interactions, it could save your life.
What Natural Remedies Are Available?
Natural remedies may not be the recommended route with a condition like osteoarthritis, but using the right one for you can mean a significant difference in the amount of pain you deal with on a daily basis.
This can mean the difference between being stuck in bed or sitting on the couch all day and being able to do all the things you love but that require your mobility to be pain-free.
The following are options for those who can not stomach the idea of sitting at home doing nothing due to the continual pain of a joint with osteoarthritis.
Be mindful that some of these should not be undertaken without first consulting with your doctor. Also, keep in mind that sometimes it takes a bit of time for these alternative remedies to kick in.
Be patient and wait at least a few weeks before you give up on your natural remedies and move on to the next one.
While weight loss is not something to undertake and find success with easily, consider the fact that every pound you lose means four pounds of pressure removed from the point of pain in your body. This is especially true for knee pain.
If you’re really struggling to lose weight talk to your doctor about healthy ways to reduce your weight and what foods you should be concentrating on.
Some foods can actually increase joint pain and simply removing these from your diet may also be helpful. Foods that can contribute to joint pain are as follows:
These foods have all sorts of additives that can be harmful to the body and cause pain. Learn to prepare foods from scratch in lieu of boxed prepackaged foods that may contain a lot of preservatives and additives.
Gluten is what gives bread dough the elasticity that we all know. It’s found in wheat, rye and barley. Try avoiding gluten for a few weeks to see if your joints aren’t feeling a bit of relief. You can still enjoy sour dough bread however as long as it’s been raised for over 7 hours. The 7 hour raising or proofing seems to render the gluten inert for your body.
Herbs that Help with Osteoarthritis:
Aloe Vera can be used as a topical treatment for osteoarthritis. It soothes the area where the pain is focused and helps the sufferer.
Taken internally however, it can cause lower blood sugar and issues with the digestive system. Aloe Vera is found in many creams and ointments as well as in gels that you can buy readily at your favorite pharmacy.
Cat’s Claw is a tropical vine that has been used for medicine since the time of the Inca’s. It has anti-inflammatory properties to reduce swelling and decrease pain.
However, this can cause issues with the immune system, and that can actually make pain worse. Be sure to consult with your doctor before considering this remedy.
Eucalyptus can be used as both an oral medication or a topical treatment. It contains tannins, which help with swelling and pain associated with conditions like osteoarthritis. Sometimes just smelling the fresh scent can help to reduce pain and inflammation.
Ginger is helpful due to strong anti-inflammatory properties. It can reduce the swelling in joints and help with the pain of osteoarthritis. You can sip ginger in a tea, or you can chew on candied ginger. Add it to your favorite dishes and enjoy the flavor it lends to your food.
Turmeric, found most commonly in curry and other Indian foods, has been found to be filled with anti-inflammatory properties.
It also contains antioxidants, both of which are beneficial to your body and help you deal with pain from osteoarthritis.
It may also help slow the progression of the disease. You can find turmeric as a supplement and as a powdered form in your spice section of your grocer. You can also find it in health food stores.
For conditions like osteoarthritis of the knee, reflexology has been used to help with pain and to release the calcium deposits that may be contributing to the condition.
People often forget the knee is the biggest joint in the body and is used the most, making it the most vulnerable due to normal wear and tear.
Massage techniques can go a long way toward helping reduce pain and allow people to get back to accomplishing their daily activities without that pain.
The foot is a good starting place to address issues with the spine and knees. When you consider that your feet have all of the nerve endings of your body in them it only stands to reason that a good old fashioned foot massage can go far in helping to reduce your pain and inflammation.
Running your thumbs over the foot from the heel to the meat of the big toe can be helpful for pain centered in these areas. Focus on this area for 10 minutes to see a marked difference in pain levels related to the spine and knee.
There are many foot charts readily available online that can help you to locate various pressure points for reducing pain.
Another good point is located one inch south of the ankle bone, where a small area shaped like a triangle is soft on the foot. Strengthening the knee joint and healing injuries can be done by focusing on this area for five minutes.
Take particular care with any spots in that area of the foot that seem sore. Massage in gentle circles gradually working your way outward.
On the outer side and under the knee cap is a spot that can help with pain as well. Move fingers in a circular motion in that area, repeating for three to five minutes. This helps with the pain and stiffness a knee can suffer related to osteoarthritis.
On the edge of the knee crease, place two fingers on the hollow between tendons. Move fingers up and then retrace the path and move down slightly.
Repeat this pattern for five to seven minutes. Repeating this three times a day can show a significant decrease in pain in a matter of a couple days.
On a spot two inches below the knee cap and only a centimeter from the shin bone, pressure using the index and middle fingers can help with muscle tone and relieve knee pain. Repeat this pressure for five minutes.
Finally, circular motions just below the knee cap on the front of the knee can also help relieve pain related to this condition. Repeat for 10 minutes, and the indication you are doing so properly will be an immediate reduction in pain levels.
While it may seem counter productive to do some exercise when you’re already sore, it is important to keep yourself mobile. Running a marathon won’t be at the top of your to-do list when the pain gets bad, but don’t forget that exercise can help you retain your mobility.
Weight training, when done gently, and aerobic exercise are good for osteoarthritis, particularly in the knees. Swimming and other exercise regimens in the pool are very helpful for dealing with pain.
Other good ideas for exercise are walking and water jogging. The water acts as a cushion to the jogger and can help to support the joints with a buoyancy that helps to prevent further injury.
Ice or Heat
Heat increases circulation and ice helps by constricting blood vessels and cutting down on nerve impulses and swelling. Both of these treatments can be helpful when it comes to osteoarthritis.
The use of ice massage can help increase your function and range of motion. Consider icing down sore joints for about 20 minutes with an ice pack or a bag of frozen vegetables. You can also heat them up for about 20 minutes with a heating pad or hot rice pack.
This supplement, when taken in the amount of 800 to 1,200 milligrams daily, can help slow the progression of osteoarthritis. It does not have any side effects.
However, the bad news is this does nothing for the pain and mobility issues associated with osteoarthritis. It is often found in conjunction with glucosamine and can help to reduce the inflammation.
Be sure to check with your doctor prior to taking any supplement, especially if you’re already on medications for your osteoarthritis.
Change Your Diet
Certain foods can be helpful in decreasing inflammation. In addition to garlic, foods like lemon, pickles, celery, onions, mustard, parsley and nuts, seeds and fish for the omega-3 fatty acids can all be helpful for pain reduction.
A balanced diet is a good focus for those with osteoarthritis, as it helps decrease inflammation.
Add in an Omega 3 supplement as well for additional benefits. Omega 3s help to keep joints lubricated and moving fluidly without jerky movements.
Providing proper support for your joints, particularly if you are overweight, can go a long way toward helping with the pain associated with osteoarthritis. Using the right brace can keep the joints aligned properly and avoid stress on those joints.
Osteoarthritis sufferers deal with pain to such an extent there are times they can not walk. For that reason, it is helpful to have alternative treatments beyond medication for the days when even the medication does not dull the pain.
These natural remedies can be completed at home and can help you change your day from one where you can not move to one where you can get some tasks accomplished.
Try eating a healthy diet and including some of the above-mentioned herbs, adding water aerobic activities to your exercise routine and practicing some reflexology to help keep your really bad days to a minimum.
Never stop any medications that the doctor has already prescribed without first checking with your doctor. Some medications, when stopped abruptly, can have negative effects on your health. Your doctor may wish to have you taper down on such medications.
Also, some medications will interact negatively with supplements so be sure that you mention any supplements to your doctor and ask directly if they will have any interactions with what you may already be taking.
When in doubt, err on the side of caution until you can check with your doctor regarding a supplement and your medications.