If you have been diagnosed with arthritis, then you likely know that this condition is the result of inflammation in one or more of your joints. The symptoms, which usually worsen with age, include pain and stiffness of the affected joints.
There are two main types of arthritis that damage joints differently:
- Osteoarthritis is the most common type of arthritis. When the cartilage in the joints becomes worn out over time, it can lead to painful friction between the bones, restricted movement, and inflammation.
- Rheumatoid arthritis: In a person with rheumatoid arthritis, the immune system attacks the body’s own joints, leading to significant inflammation and pain. Eventually, this disease will destroy the cartilage and bone in the affected joint.
Although current medicine doesn’t always understand why one person develops arthritis and another doesn’t, some known risk factors may make you more likely to have this condition.
- Age. The risk of developing both types of arthritis along with gout – increases as you age.
- Prior joint injury. If you have sustained a joint injury, such as a sports injury, you are more likely to develop arthritis in the future.
- Family history. Certain types of arthritis tend to run in families, so your genes can make you more or less susceptible to environmental arthritis triggers.
- Obesity. Being overweight places excess stress on your joints, especially the spine, hips, and knees.
The good news is that you aren’t helpless to turn things around. If you would like to minimize your joint pain while avoiding or minimizing strong prescription painkillers, keep reading for lots of valuable information about natural and safe help for people with arthritis.
Can You Still Exercise with Arthritis?
Exercise is one of the most important things you can do if you have arthritis. However, it’s far from the only one. Here are several ways to reduce your pain and enhance your health, happiness, and quality of life. Exercising outdoors is a plus, just be sure to take precaution during the winter months, as cold weather can affect arthritis.
Best Morning Routine for Arthritis Pain
Starting your day without pain begins the night before. Sleeping in the right position can help prevent pain and stiffness in the morning, but there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to this. If you already have a go-to position that works for your specific condition, then it’s probably best to stick with it. If you’re looking for the right position to help keep you more comfortable, though, some general guidelines include:
- Sleep in a straight line. Try sleeping with your neck, back, arms and legs stretched out straight rather than curved or bunched up.
- Avoid excess head elevation. Sleeping with your head overly elevated can strain your neck. Keep your head centered on the pillow and make sure that you aren’t bending the neck too much or putting pressure on painful joints.
- Customize your sleep. You may want to use pillows strategically to help position your body for optimal comfort, such as a pillow between your legs or under your shoulders.
Once you’re awake and moving, it’s always wise to stretch a bit. Focus your stretching on the joints with which you have the most trouble. If you struggle with joint stiffness in the morning, then range-of-motion exercises may be particularly helpful, such as arm circles, elbow bends, and knee rotations.
When you’ve stretched and loosened up your joints, it’s time to get moving. Avoid falling into the trap of not moving because you’re in pain – exercise is indeed beneficial for arthritis and can help tremendously in the long run. A strenuous workout isn’t necessary – even 30 minutes of brisk walking can work wonders for your joint strength and mobility throughout the rest of your day. Feel free to break up your walk into three 10-minute segments if 30 minutes is too much all at once. And don’t forget to take your omega-3 supplement with exercise!
Another important piece of the pain-relief puzzle is heat. When you apply heat directly to stiff joints, you help them loosen up and relax, relieving discomfort. Feel free to use your heating pad when you first wake up in bed, after stretching, while you’re at your desk or watching TV, or anytime you need a little extra relief.
Finally, don’t forget to take your omega-3 supplement. Omega-3 fatty acids are some of the most effective substances you can add to your diet to fight inflammation because they supply the necessary nutrients that your body can’t make on its own. You can add omega-3s to your diet, but it’s often difficult to get an optimal amount without changing your whole diet. Instead, you can take a supplement such as GLX3 to get the recommended dosage of omega-3s affordably and conveniently.
Sleeping with Arthritis
As we touched on above, how you sleep can have an impact on your arthritis, but your arthritis can also have an impact on how you sleep. In fact, sleep problems are one of the most common side effects of arthritis. Here are some things you can try to improve your sleep and reduce the impact that your arthritis has on it.
- Establish a routine. If possible, maintain regular bedtimes each night and wakeup times each morning – even on weekends. Sticking to a routine helps program your body to be prepared for sleep and naturally become more ready to relax.
- Stay active. Expect your level of daytime activity to have a direct effect on your nighttime sleep. Even if you have arthritis, you should aim for as much physical activity as you can comfortably handle. Try to get your heart rate up for at least 20 minutes each day to improve your sleep patterns significantly.
- Banish screens. At least an hour before you turn in for the night, turn off the TV, put down your phone, and close your laptop. Focusing on a non-electronic activity such as reading or playing a board game can help you get ready to sleep more easily.
- Avoid PM caffeine. If you love your morning coffee, there’s no reason that you need to give it up. However, if your arthritis is interfering with your sleep, then it’s essential to restrict your caffeine intake to the morning hours.
- Keep your drinking in check. You may enjoy your evening drink or two, and that’s fine – as long as you aren’t having trouble staying asleep. If you notice that you wake up in the middle of the night and have trouble falling back asleep, alcohol could be to blame. Try to stick to water in the hours before bedtime for sounder sleep.
- Define what your bed is for. Your bedroom and your bed itself should be escapes from the daytime world into a night of blissful relaxation. When you bring stressful activities into your bedroom, such as work or TV watching, it can have a negative impact on the quality of your sleep.
- Use an omega-3 supplement. If you have arthritis and joint pain keeps you from sleeping well at night, you may be able to lessen the problem by adding GLX3 to your diet. Green-lipped mussel supplements help you fight inflammation and pain and maintain a healthy sleep routine.
Cold Treatment for Arthritis
You may have tried lots of different arthritis treatments, from medication to exercise to heat – but have you tried using cold? Heat and cold in arthritis treatment are akin to the popular concept of “yin and yang” – opposites that, when combined, deliver a balanced approach to pain relief. Of course, you don’t want to use cold on cold, tight muscles or joints that need to relax and loosen up, but you also don’t want to use heat on the part of your body that’s already feeling hot and inflamed.
You can help reduce arthritis pain by knowing when and how to use cold to your advantage. When your joints burn angrily, applying cold can feel incredibly cooling, calming, and relieving. This drop in temperature helps decrease blood flow to the area, reducing inflammation and, therefore, pain. You can incorporate cold into your arthritis treatment routine by using ice packs (always keeping a barrier such as a towel between the ice pack and your skin) or a topical fluoromethane spray to produce a cooling, soothing sensation.
Heat Treatment for Arthritis
How does heat help arthritis? If inflammation causes much of your arthritis pain, it may seem counterintuitive to use heat to soothe it. However, heat is one of the most effective and simplest ways to relieve the pain of arthritis. When you add heat to a sore area, you improve circulation, sending important nutrients to painful joints and muscles. You also help your body warm-up for exercise – another essential element of arthritis relief. There are several different ways to apply heat to your trouble spots, including:
- A heating pad for hands or knees. If you have arthritis in your knees or hands, a heating pad is an excellent way to target the heat to these specific body parts. Just be sure to wrap your heating pad in a cloth to reduce direct contact with your skin.
- A hot tub or whirlpool. Head to your local fitness center and relax with your feet up in their whirlpool or hot tub. Whether you are a professional athlete or a weekend warrior, you’ll love this wonderfully relaxing and pain-relieving therapy. Don’t have a fitness center or gym you can visit? Replicate the effects with a hot bath at home.
- Sauna therapy. Saunas have been used extensively for centuries, offering the opportunity to bask in the contained warmth of a small enclosure. Saunas are believed to improve blood circulation, bringing nutrient- and oxygen-rich blood to all the areas of the body.
You may be tempted to wonder if simply exposing yourself to hot weather may carry the same benefits. Still, the unrelenting heat and humidity associated with summertime are different from the specific treatments listed above. It is not advisable to expose yourself to a consistent state of hyperthermia in an attempt to relieve the symptoms of arthritis.
What to Eat and Drink for Arthritis
Finally, what you eat, and drink plays an incredibly important role in your arthritis pain. If you want to reduce your symptoms without taking addictive pain killers or if you want to add something more to your existing arthritis treatment for better results, then it’s time to take a look at your diet and start viewing food as medicine.
The Best Drinks to Fight Inflammation and Arthritis
What you sip throughout the day matters when you’re trying to ward off the pain of arthritis. Try one or more of these naturally anti-inflammatory beverages to help ease your pain.
- Fresh, raw fruit, and veggie juices. Many fruit and vegetable juices deliver a healthy dose of antioxidants, compounds that help fight free radicals and the damage they cause in your body. Look for carrot, tomato, orange, or pineapple juice – but make sure that it’s fresh-squeezed, not packaged with added sugar.
- Tea – black, white, green. Tea is a cheap, widely available beverage with significant health benefits. All of these different types of tea provide important anti-inflammatory compounds known as polyphenols. Enjoy a cup or two any time of day for a powerful anti-arthritis punch.
- Coffee drinks. Like tea, coffee is loaded with polyphenols that help fight inflammation and pain in the joints. Some of its cousins are also extremely beneficial for arthritis pain, such as chai tea, loaded with cinnamon, cloves, and cardamom – all anti-inflammatory giants.
- Hot chocolate. If you think of hot chocolate as a guilty pleasure, it’s time to remove the guilt. Chocolate contains flavanols that can help keep your arteries healthy and prevent inflammation. Plus, it tastes great – so why not add it to your regular rotation, especially when outside temperatures drop. Just remember that it should be cacao, not cocoa! Avoid the sugars as they are a source of inflammation.
What to Include in Your Diet to Help With Arthritis Pain
No matter which type of arthritis you have, the good news is that there are many different foods known to help reduce the severity of your symptoms. Some of the very best choices include:
- Olive oil
- Fatty fish
There are many healthy snacks and recipes to help you manage arthritis pain. Fatty fish are particularly helpful because of the amount of omega-3 fatty acids they contain, compounds known to have powerful anti-inflammatory effects. People who have arthritis and need to reduce inflammation to reduce pain and return to a healthy level of activity, green-lipped mussels are the best source of omega-3 fatty acids.
GLX3 is the best source of green-lipped mussel oil and is very effective. When combined with the remedies outlined above, GLX3 is a potent source of relief when it comes to the pain and inflammation associated with arthritis.