What is that excruciating pain in your hip, elbow or wrist? You could be experiencing the symptoms of arthritis.
In a moment I’ll tell you how to beat arthritis, but first you should understand that arthritis isn’t just a single condition, and learn what the symptoms and risk factors are.
In fact, arthritis is the term used for a group of more than 100 medical conditions that collectively affect nearly 46 million adults and 300,000 children in America alone.
Most arthritic conditions fall into one of two categories: osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.
Osteoarthritis is by far the more common form of arthritis and usually appears in hard working joints and body parts like the knees, hips, hands, and the spine.
Rheumatoid arthritis is believed to be caused by an inappropriate immune reaction. White blood cells attack the cartilage in the joints and can even go on to destroy bones, muscles, and skin.
Symptoms and Risk Factors
You might experience a number of symptoms including joint pain, joint swelling, stiffness, redness of skin around the joint, limited range of motion, and fatigue. We don’t know the exact causes of arthritis yet, but certain risk factors are well known:
Age — Your chance of developing arthritis increases with age.
Weight — Being overweight puts an extra load on your joints.
Genetics — A likely contributor to arthritis, but it’s not clear how much.
Previous Injury – Major injuries can be a contributing factor.
Sports – High demand sports can contribute to arthritis.
Illness or infection — Gout or an infection in the joint can lead to arthritis.
Top 5 Ways to Beat Arthritis
1. Beat Arthritis with Your Diet
Evidence show that your diet may influence symptoms of certain types of arthritis and related conditions. A diet including plenty of anti-inflammatory foods and pain-fighting herbs may be helpful in combating arthritis.
Other diet tips to help fight arthritis pain include:
Keep portion sizes small at every meal and only eat when hungry
Drink lots of water and avoid highly caffeinated and sugary beverages
Eat plenty of brightly colored fruits and vegetables
Eat cold-water fish such as salmon and mackerel, which provide Omega-3 essential fatty acids, Vitamin E, and other anti-inflammatory properties.
Munch on plenty of raw vegetables and occasional whole grains. The fiber will help clean out mineral and acid build-up and keep your digestive system free of harmful bacteria.
Avoid acidic foods including red meat, saturated fats, fried foods, sugar, dairy products, refined carbohydrates, foods high in gluten, alcohol, and caffeine.
2. Beat Arthritis with Regular Exercise
The first exercise on the list of all arthritis sufferers should be stretching. It’s a great way to start off any workout. Regular, moderate physical activity decreases fatigue, strengthens muscles and bones, increases flexibility and stamina, and improves your overall sense of wellbeing.
Try these five types of exercise to ease your arthritis symptoms:
Water Exercises – Exercises like swimming and aerobics in water are good for stiff, sore joints. Water supports your body as you move, which reduces stress on and supports your hips, knees and spine.
Walking – Walking strengthens muscles, which helps shift pressure from your joints and reduces pain. The Arthritis Foundation recommends walking for 10 minutes at least 3-5 days a week.
Yoga — Beginners Yoga classes have simple, gentle movements that gradually build strength, balance and flexibility, reduce inflammation, increase energy, and promote a positive outlook.
Tai Chi — This traditional style of Chinese martial arts features slow, rhythmic movements that induce mental relaxation and enhance balance, strength and flexibility.
Indoor Cycling – Indoor cycling is an excellent way to get a cardiovascular workout without overly stressing weight-bearing joints.
3. Beat Arthritis by Applying Heat or Cold
Alternating heat and ice, 15 minutes each, for three repetitions of both can provide relief for achy joints. It may take a little trial and error to learn what combination works best for your pain.
Use cold compresses to reduce joint swelling and inflammation. Ice wrapped in a thin towel, a bag of frozen peas, or commercially available cold gel packs are all good sources. To avoid frostbite, don’t apply cold for more than 15 minutes at a time. Avoid applying ice or cold packs directly to your skin.
Heat compresses relax your muscles and stimulates blood flow. Ways to apply heat include using a moist heating pad or a warm, damp towel, warm shower, or hot tub. The most effective healing heat by far is far infrared heat, which penetrates much deeper than the superficial heating of standard heating pads.
When using standard heating pads or hot water bottles, remember to place a towel or cloth between the pad or bottle and your skin. To prevent burns, avoid using heat for excessive lengths of time and always follow the manufacturer’s guidelines.
4. Beat Arthritis with Rest and Relaxation
Rest is a critically important part of any joint pain management plan. Get at least 8 hours of sleep per night and take naps during the day to help your joints recover from any injuries or damage and reduce the number of flare-up recurrences.
Both pain and stress can cause muscles to tighten, breathing to become fast and shallow, and heart rate and blood pressure to go through the roof. Reverse these effects by practicing relaxation through meditation to calm and control your body and mind.
Try massage treatments to increase circulation and decrease tension throughout your body. Aside from feeling great, it will help you relax, improve your mental fitness and you’ll experience temporary relief in pain.
5. Beat Arthritis with Natural Supplements
Over-the-counter drugs like ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) and naproxen (Aleve), as well as prescription drugs like Celebrex can be hard on your gastrointestinal tract. They can lead to dangerous side effects such as bleeding, ulcers, perforation of your stomach and intestines, or worse.
Natural supplements have become more popular as people seek to control their health and healing.