Finding “home remedies” for osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, psoriatic arthritis and other forms of arthritis is easy. Finding effective ones is a lot harder. Few have been rigorously studied, and even remedies that perform well in trials don’t work for everyone. Here are five low-risk therapies that science shows may reduce pain and inflammation.
Researchers agree – meditation can help with a host of health problems. “Relaxing and quieting your mind by focusing on your breathing can reduce stress – even the stress that comes with arthritis flares,” says David E. Yocum, MD, director of the Arizona Arthritis Center in Tucson. His studies, as well as others, found that patients who meditated responded to stress with lower heart rates and improved immune function; and that meditation, in combination with traditional medicines, appears to help patients with chronic pain. Studies have shown that meditation inhibits or relieves pain perception. And in a study published in the American Academy of Pain Medicine’s scientific journal in April 2015, 43 patients who used a mindfulness meditation program as part of their pain management experienced lower general anxiety and depression, better mental quality of life (psychological well-being), a greater feeling of control of the pain, and higher pain acceptance.
Continue reading Easy Meditation Options for Pain
One of several nondrug pain treatments for arthritis, acupuncture involves inserting fine needles into specific points on the body. The goal is to correct imbalances in the flow of life energy – called chi or qi – thereby stimulating healing. Traditional Chinese medicine describes more than 2,000 acupuncture points (acupoints) connected to 12 main energy channels.
In the West, acupuncture is mainly associated with pain relief, but the 3,000-year-old practice is a complex and comprehensive system of medicine that emphasizes healing the mind and spirit as well as the body.
Continue reading Acupuncture and Acupressure for Arthritis
Soaking in warm water, with or without minerals, is one of the oldest forms of medicine. And there’s good reason why this practice has stood the test of time. Research has shown it works wonders for all kinds of musculoskeletal complaints, including fibromyalgia, arthritis and low back pain.
“Water is wonderful,” says Carol Huegel, a physical therapist with ReQuest Physical Therapy, Gainesville, Fla. Huegel says submersion aids sore joints three ways: It reduces the force of gravity that’s compressing the joint; offers 360-degree support for sore limbs (almost like an Ace bandage); and can increase circulation and decrease inflammation. And Huegel says its moist heat is more penetrating than the dry heat you’d get from a heating pad.
Meditation includes many different practices of focused thinking and relaxation and studies show it can help people with arthritis. No matter what technique you choose, the goal is to improve coping strategies for pain and reduce symptoms like stress and anxiety. Maybe you’ve even tried it – but two minutes felt like two hours and after each 20-minute session, the result was the same: You created a mental to-do list and had a sore behind. You’re not alone.
“We are so used to multitasking that we find it difficult to sit down and turn off our thoughts,” explains Scott Zashin, MD, a rheumatologist and clinical assistant professor of internal medicine at University of Texas Southwestern Medical School at Dallas. “Meditation is not a quick fix; it takes time.”
Diagnosed with fibromyalgia in her 30s and then osteoarthritis (OA) in her 50s, pain has been a pretty consistent factor in Laurie Steiner’s adult life. But, as an active grandmother and frequent caretaker of seven grandchildren, Laurie doesn’t have the time to let the pain keep her down.
“I have a busy life, like most women,” says Laurie. “I watch several of my grandkids, which involves a lot of lifting, as well as getting down and dirty with them when we play together. I may have fibromyalgia and arthritis, but I can’t let it keep me from the things I love.”
In treating her pain, Laurie has been diligent in avoiding certain pain medications in fear that they will make her too tired to make it through the day.
There are many ways to manage arthritis pain and get pain relief. No single treatment is guaranteed to produce complete and consistent relief from pain. Often, you need a combination of methods. And you may need to add or stop a treatment over time as your condition changes.
You may get pain relief from nonprescription medications such as aspirin, acetaminophen (Tylenol), ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) or naproxen (Aleve). Or your doctor can prescribe a stronger medication if those don’t work. But you may have side effects or the medications might not provide complete relief for you. Here are other proven methods you can try to soothe arthritis pain in addition to pills and medical treatments.