Updated May 29, 2016
According to the Arthritis Foundation, more than 50 million Americans suffer from arthritis — and there are more than 100 different kids of arthritis and musculoskeletal recognized by the medical community.
Arthritis is an often painful condition that causes swelling, inflammation, and stiffness of the joints. Over time, this can lead to changes in mobility and even disability. Plus, with so many forms of arthritis, it’s essential to know what kind of you have.
Additional data from the Arthritis Foundation suggests more than 44 million outpatient visits and 992,100 hospitalizations each year can be attributed to arthritis and complications of the disease.
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How to Treat Arthritis Pain at Home
While arthritis treatments like pain medication and bracing can be effective in managing pain, there are a number of at-home and natural remedies for relieving discomfort in your joints that are gaining in popularity.
Terence W. Starz, MD, a rheumatologist at UPMC, weighs in on several methods to help you naturally manage your pain.
Treating Arthritis: Move Around
Exercise may seem like the last thing you want to do when your joints are bothering you. However, low-impact physical activity has many benefits for people with pain from arthritis. The benefits of exercise include:
- Strengthening your joint support structures
- Improving flexibility and mobility
- Increasing blood flow to your tissues
Losing healthy amounts of body weight also can help reduce pressure on your joints. Dr. Starz recommends staying healthy with exercise as a great way to manage your weight. As an added benefit, exercise can also help to strengthen your joints and fight the progression of arthritis.
Footwear for Arthritis
It is important to wear a well-fitting and supportive shoe at all times, especially when you have arthritis. Your work shoes, workout shoes, and weekend shoes should all cushion your feet and permit movement. You may want to avoid high heels because they place strain on your joints, especially the knees.
Diet and Arthritis
A healthy and balanced diet can control weight and build up your body’s immunity to the symptoms of arthritis with natural antioxidants. As you plan meals, Dr. Starz suggests that you focus on:
- Drinking water and beverages high in calcium to strengthen your bones and joints
- Adding greens to your plate to build up your antioxidants
- Increasing the amount of fish you eat to benefit from the anti-inflammatory properties
Natural Supplements for Arthritis
If you’re worried about diet and getting the right amounts of joint-health substances, supplements can be an option. Dr. Starz adds, “Although they are taken by many people, their role in treating arthritis is still uncertain and is under investigation.” He recommends talking to your doctor about adding:
- Fish oil
- Folic Acid
- Vitamins K and C
Maintain Proper Posture
Proper lifting technique can ease more than just your back pain. Lifting puts a great deal of pressure your body’s joints and, when done improperly, can cause pain or further injuries. When lifting:
- Keep your feet shoulder with apart
- Position your back behind the object keeping it from curving
- Squat using your abdominal muscles
- Focus your lift from your legs as opposed to your back
- Wear supportive shoes when possible
At work or home, many of us sit for hours a day. One way to break this habit that Dr. Starz recommends is to take breaks if you’ve been sitting for an hour or more by getting up to walk around. Maintain good posture to prevent pain triggered by the strain placed on your joints due to a seated position. Engage your core, and avoid slouching.
Stress and Arthritis Pain
Stress can trigger or intensify pain. Taking a bath or getting a massage can make all the difference in relieving your pain and rehabilitating your joints and tissues. Heat therapies also can relieve muscle tension and reduce stress levels.
Do you have arthritis or joint pain? If you have questions about natural remedies to manage discomfort, speak with our rheumatology experts who offer comprehensive services for the full spectrum of musculoskeletal conditions, by calling 1-800-533-UPMC (8762).
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About UPMC Orthopaedic Care
As a national leader in advanced orthopaedic care, UPMC treats a full range of musculoskeletal disorders, from the acute and chronic to the common and complex. Whether you have bone, muscle, or joint pain, we provide access to UPMC’s vast network of support services for both surgical and nonsurgical treatments and a full continuum of care. As leaders in research and clinical trials with cutting-edge tools and techniques, UPMC Presbyterian Shadyside appears on U.S. News & World Report’s rankings of the top hospitals in the country for orthopaedics.