Natural Alternatives To Relieve Your Arthritic Joint Pain
Inflammatory arthritis is a subset of conditions characterized by recurring pain, swelling, and feverish heat in the joints. Those suffering from inflammatory arthritis tend to feel most of their pain in the joints, and experience joint stiffness in the morning – that typically lasts more than one hour.
This pain can be caused by several factors:
- Synovitis. This is an inflammation of the membrane that lines your joint capsule. All joints are enclosed in a capsule; this is like a water balloon around the joint that allows for lubrication and motion. When it gets inflamed, the synovial lining of the capsule releases chemicals that irritate nearby nerves to cause pain and increases fluid in the affected joints to cause stiffness.
- Increased fluid in the joints. Fluid builds in the joint from the inflamed synovium, causing pressure, stiffness and pain. Enough fluid can actually stretch the capsule and surrounding tissues of a joint and this stretch is painful. As well, too much fluid will seep through fissures in the cartilage and damage the underlying bone by forming cysts and pothole like structures; this too is painful.
- Brittle bones. Arthritis can damage your bones. Too much damage can affect the joints and cause “grinding” and pain during use, increasing swelling and stiffness of the joints. Osteophytes or spurs often form with arthritis; this is the body’s attempt to further stabilize a damaged joint. However, the spurs too often cause pain in and of themselves.
- Ligament damage. Ligaments support the joint. As inflammation spreads, The effects of inflammation can damage these bands of flexible tissue that support the joint. Ligaments become thick and less pliable, this reduces the ability of a joint to function normally. Motion and load are necessary for the normal function of a joint. If a ligament is preventing normal use, further deterioration results.
- Muscle weakness. Reduced muscle strength, which occurs as you time passes in our society, puts more stress on joints. Muscles normally act as shock absorbers and protectors of joints. As most Americans are sedentary and have limited use of muscle, the muscles are not very strong and painful joints can result. As well, hormonal changes often cause weak muscles; this contributes to pain as time passes.
Don’t lose it, use it. Keep your joints active by incorporating gentle stretches that move your joints through their full range of motion. Take up a gentle yoga practice, swim, or try lifting small weights at home with the guidance of your physician. Avoiding use of a limb or joint is very damaging. Disuse itself causes deterioration and weakening of bone, joints, ligaments, tendons and muscles. Unless it is mandatory, one should not avoid activity.
Remain mindful. Maintaining good posture is important for joint health. Your physical therapist can assess your posture and help you with an exercise routine dedicated to improving it wherever necessary. Posture is hugely important to overall bone and muscle health. Poor posture is one of the leading causes of pain in this country. This is something that you can self-treat; it is something that can empower you to improve pain, stiffness and poor function.
Certain lifestyle changes can also relieve pain. Eating a diet that is low in inflammatory foods and/or high in anti-inflammatory foods is helpful in reducing overall human inflammation, which will reduce pain in your joints. Cutting out processed foods and introducing more whole foods, such as whole wheat bread, fresh fruit and veggies, and more, will be beneficial in reducing the pain you feel every day.
Manage weight. It is not the weight that matters, but rather the amount of adipose that is producing inflammation. We now know that excess adipose causes not just hormonal imbalances but also chronic inflammation. Reducing the amount of tissue that produces pro-inflammatory molecules will improve your quality of life as you navigate managing your symptoms. Starting simple, sustainable habits – 20 minutes of walking a day, dietary changes, and more – result in gradual weight loss that sticks.
Try supplements and other natural remedies. Fish oil is commonly recommended by physicians as Omega-3s block out cytokines and prostaglandins – inflammatory molecules – and are also converted into powerful anti-inflammatory chemicals called resolvins. Fatty acids are also the basic building blocks of the endocannabinoid system. Vitamin D3 is also a great choice. Vitamin D helps your bones absorb calcium more efficiently, which is vital to promoting bone health and regrowth. It’s also crucial for muscle movement, communication between nerves, and fighting inflammation – which can assist you in other lifestyle changes.
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