When you start to feel uncomfortable pain in your knee, elbow, wrist or hip you may be in the early stages of some form of arthritis. The good news is that you can beat arthritis, the bad news is that so many of us don’t understand arthritis that we rely on the wrong treatments. Without proper treatment your pain, discomfort and inflammation will only worsen.
What can you do about it?
Well first you can educate yourself. The more you know about the many types of arthritis—and there are many, more than 100—the more seriously you’ll take getting a proper diagnosis and committing to a treatment plan. The first thing you need to know is that the symptoms you feel could be the common osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis or many other types that can be degenerative due to regular wear and tear or a disease.
Millions of Americans are impacted by different types of arthritis and those who alleviate or reverse their symptoms have found a treatment plan to beat arthritis.
But first you need to know if you have arthritis or if you are at risk for it.
Signs & Risks of Arthritis
If you were hoping that you could pinpoint behaviors or illnesses that can cause arthritis, I’m sorry to report that we don’t know what exactly causes arthritis...yet. The symptoms that will inevitably lead you to seek out medical help—stiffness, joint pain and swelling, fatigue and poor range of motion—are what will be used to diagnose your particular type of arthritis.
What we do know is that there are certain risks that increase the likelihood of developing arthritis, they include;
Age - You are more likely to develop arthritis as you age.
Genetics - We don’t know much about how large a role genetics plays in determining who develops arthritis, but we do it contributes to it.
Weight - Being overweight puts a lot of unnecessary pressure on your joints, enhancing the wear and tear compared to that of someone within the average weight range.
Athleticism - Physical activities that are hard on the body can contribute to the weakening of joints and lead to arthritis.
Old Injuries - If you have experienced a major injury particularly in the elbow, knee or wrist, you are more likely to develop arthritis.
Illness - If you have suffered from an infection to your joints this can lead to some forms of arthritis.
Now you know which high risk categories you fall into, let’s talk about how you can beat arthritis!
Beat It Naturally
It is human instinct to reach for the bottle that will relieve our pain and swelling the fastest. Often that means over the counter painkillers such as ibuprofen and acetaminophen and naproxen. These drugs work fairly quickly to provide relief from your most painful and uncomfortable arthritis symptoms. The problem is that these drugs can cause major problems for you after long-term use.
Using these drugs too much for your arthritis symptoms can cause ulcers, bleeding and even peroration of the stomach lining. So what are your options?
Natural, of course!
Natural supplements are increasing in popularity as people are looking for ways to heal without making them sicker. You need natural supplements that fight inflammation and relieve pain and systemic enzymes are just what you need. They help with inflammation, boost the immune system and even get rid of scar tissue.
There are natural topical creams that provide pain relief and even foods that help alleviate or reverse your symptoms.
One thing that all bodies suffering from an infection or injury needs is rest. It is how the body heals itself so if you want to beat your arthritis you need to make sure you’re getting enough sleep every night. For most of us this will mean between 6 and 8 hours of sleep each night and take naps if you feel tired throughout the day.
If you’re not resting then you are not giving your body what it needs to heal. Furthermore stress can wreak havoc on a body that is already not at its best; it tightens muscles and increases blood pressure and heart rate. These things will only exacerbate your symptoms.
Show arthritis whose boss by meditating, practicing yoga and getting a sufficient amount of sleep each night. If you’re having trouble enjoying R&R on your own, try massage therapy or aromatherapy to relax your body and help you rest so you can heal.
A healthy diet can make all the difference when it comes to healing your body. Whether due to injury or illness, food can often be the best medicine. When it comes to many types of arthritis a diet filled with foods that fight inflammation and pain can help you feel like a new person.
But it isn’t just the fruits, vegetables, herbs and spices you add to your diet that can help fight arthritis, it is also the details. For example don’t overeat because we’ve already discussed the role weight plays in arthritis pain. Along those same lines you want to avoid junk food that includes fried foods, sugar, artificial flavors & colors, refined carbs, alcohol and caffeine.
If you really want to make sure you successfully beat arthritis, follow these diet guidelines;
- Drink plenty of water. There’s no set amount but if you feel thirsty, drink water.
- If you need meat, avoid red meat and choose cold water fish like salmon. They are loaded with omega-3 fatty acids and anti-inflammatory properties.
- Eat one salad a day; the raw fruits and vegetables will help flush out the buildup of acid which will leave your body bacteria-free.
- When in doubt, choose fresh and seasonal produce and herbs.
It is a common misconception that arthritis suffers should avoid exercise, but it is a misconception. Stretching should be at the top of everyone’s list of things to do each day, but especially those with stiff and aching joints. While you do need exercise you should try to avoid high impact activities like running and Zumba.
You need exercise that will get good, oxygen-rich blood flowing through your body, strengthen you bones and muscles and improve your flexibility.
Exercise in general makes you feel good inside and out, which can contribute to healing. If you’re in the market for some arthritis-friendly exercise consider walking; it’s easy, you can do it anywhere and it fits all the above criteria.
When walking becomes old hat, consider these more adventurous but equally effective exercises that will beat arthritis:
- Water Activities - Water aerobics isn’t just for old people, but the reason old people favor water-based activities is because it allows you to exercise without putting undue stress on the joints and muscles. If water aerobics isn’t your thing, 30 to 45 minutes of swimming laps will be as effective, just not as fun!
- Yoga - If you have limited flexibility or your arthritis has taken away your flexibility, consider taking a beginner yoga class. This will help you focus on your breathing, which you can use at night when you need to relax or de-stress. But contrary to popular belief yoga will also build your strength in your muscles, reduce inflammation and of course, increase your flexibility and balance.
- Pilates - If you want something slightly more intense than yoga but that will also strengthen the muscles that support your joints, Pilates is the answer. With focused breathing you can improve strength and stabilize muscles to prevent further joint damage.
Regular exercise will keep you strong, stable and flexible so don’t help arthritis out by skipping your workouts!
Run Hot & Cold On Arthritis
One of the most effective treatments for arthritis is heat and ice, applied alternately to aching joints and muscles. This small treatment, in fifteen minute increments, can go a long to help you improve mobility and reduce pain.
The key however is to figure out what combination of hot and cold works best for you. If your arthritis gives you more swollen joints and general inflammation you might find that you need more time with cold compresses than hot ones. You should never exceed the recommended 15 minute time limit. If you need more cold, take a 10 to 15 minute break and reapply the cold compress.
If you need to loosen up tight joints and muscles in order to increase the flow of blood then you need hot compresses. There are many hot options available from the simple warm shower or damp towel and heating pad. If you need more intense heat consider far infrared heat which offers a heat treatment that penetrates into the muscles.
Always exercise caution and never place hot or cold treatments directly to the skin.
The power to beat arthritis is within you, will you use it to fight pain, swelling and inflammation?