Natural Remedies For Arthritis

man holding knee while jogging in park


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Arthritis is characterized by joint pain and inflammation. Most people recognize the two most common types of arthritis—osteoarthritis (OA) and rheumatoid arthritis (RA). But, there are actually more than 100 types of arthritis overall.

Symptoms of arthritis include joint pain, stiffness, swelling, redness, and a lessened range of motion in the affected joint. You may also experience a fever, anemia, and a lack of energy or appetite.

You should contact a healthcare provider if you experience any of these symptoms, especially if you have a high fever or anemia. Some types of arthritis result in permanent joint damage if left untreated, so it is always best to be safe and see a medical professional as soon as you can.

Types of Arthritis

Arthritis is not a diagnosis. Instead, it is a general term that covers more than 100 diseases and conditions, all of which cause joint pain or discomfort. Here are some of the most common causes of arthritis.

Osteoarthritis

Osteoarthritis (OA) is the most common type of arthritis. It is defined by a breakdown of the cartilage at a joint, which causes the adjacent bones to rub together.

OA is often found in the hands, knees, and hips, but it can be in any joint. OA is diagnosed in more than 32.5 million U.S. adults. OA can be genetic, caused by joint injury or overuse, or even just be an effect of age.

Rheumatoid Arthritis

Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) is an autoimmune and inflammatory disease. With RA, your immune system will get confused and attack healthy cells, instead of harmful ones. RA causes painful swelling in the affected areas, which can lead to chronic pain, lack of balance, and deformation.

RA is a form of arthritis, meaning that it mainly affects the joints, and it often affects many joints at a time. It can eventually cause damage to other tissues in the body, and affect organs such as your lungs, heart, and eyes as well. 

Fibromyalgia

Fibromyalgia is a condition that causes pain all over the body, and sometimes a higher sensitivity to pain. Other symptoms include sleep problems, fatigue, and distress.

About 4 million U.S. adults are diagnosed with fibromyalgia, which accounts for about 2% of the U.S. adult population. This condition can affect almost everything, including memory and even digestion. 

Gout

Gout is an inflammatory type of arthritis and can be very painful. It is characterized by phases of symptoms, where sometimes there may be no pain at all. Other times symptoms will flare up, often in one joint at a time.

Gout is most commonly found in the big toe but is also common to other low joints, such as the knee, ankle, or other toe joints. When gout flares up, the symptoms can last for days or weeks. The time between flares can last weeks, months, or even years. 

Lupus

Lupus is a chronic autoimmune disease. It affects many parts of the body and is caused by the immune system attacking healthy cells by mistake. Lupus symptoms are diverse and can resemble other conditions and diseases, earning it the nickname “The Great Imitator."

Kevin Ellis, Founder of Bone Coach

Oftentimes, doctors prescribe medication to provide relief from this pain, but many will also acknowledge the importance of natural approaches.

— Kevin Ellis, Founder of Bone Coach

It can be very hard to diagnose Lupus for this reason. Lupus can be anywhere from mild to life-threatening, which means that early diagnosis is very important. This disease is often diagnosed by a rheumatologist. 

“Oftentimes, doctors prescribe medication to provide relief from this pain, but many will also acknowledge the importance of natural approaches,” says Kevin Ellis, Integrative Nutrition health coach.

Natural Remedies for Arthritis

While nothing can replace a diagnosis and treatment plan by a medical professional, there are many natural remedies you can supplement with. Here are the best natural remedies for arthritis.

Exercise

Research has shown that exercise is beneficial for arthritis, especially for osteoarthritis. Exercise helps to strengthen the muscles around your joints, offering additional structural support, but you should do more than merely walk.

Instead, it is best to focus on muscle strengthening, flexibility, and aerobic exercise. Due to the nature of arthritis, exercise can be difficult, and you may not want to put pressure on those joints.

Fortunately, there are still many options for exercise. One way to exercise without putting pressure on joints is swimming and other water activities. 

Hot and Cold Therapy

Hot and cold therapy, also known as thermotherapy, is a common treatment for osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. It is considered for all forms of arthritis that affect a specific location at a time.

Thermotherapy can be a hot or cold pad applied to painful or inflamed joints. Both hot and cold pads are considered beneficial. Which to use is merely up to personal preference. Research confirms that both provide mild relief from arthritis symptoms. 

Nutrient-Rich Diet

Arthritis often results in swelling, which can cause pain, discomfort, and further lack of range of motion. There are many foods that are said to help reduce swelling in the body.

An anti-inflammatory diet is recommended for arthritis and includes salmon, blueberries, pomegranate, granola, yogurt, and chickpeas. This diet was meant specifically for rheumatoid arthritis, but anti-inflammatory effects can be beneficial for many types of arthritis.

Also, according to Hana Kahleova, MD, PhD, MBA, and director of clinical research for the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, diets excluding animal products may improve symptoms. Dr. Kahleova recommends plant-based fibers and flax seed as anti-inflammatory foods. 

Reducing Stress

Stress can come from many different things, including depression, anxiety, and other states of mental health. Of course, that is not the only cause of stress, but studies have confirmed that mental health can contribute to the severity of arthritis symptoms.

More specifically, depression and anxiety can affect the pain intensity, coping strategies, and resiliency of arthritis patients. This means that when your mind is stressed, you are more likely to be sensitive to pain and in a negative mindset. Managing stress levels may help raise the quality of life for those with arthritis. 

Massage Therapy

Massage therapy is exactly what it sounds like. Massages are known to engage the nerves and soothe the muscles in an area. A massage can reduce pain, as well as stress and anxiety.

As mentioned in the past section, stress and anxiety contribute to pain intensity, so it is very beneficial to reduce those feelings. Research has shown that massage therapy increased the quality of daily life in arthritis patients, specifically those with osteoarthritis. 

When to See a Doctor

See a medical professional if you have had joint symptoms for 3 or more days or if you have had joint symptoms several times within a month. Seek medical attention right away if you experience a high fever, anemia, or have not eaten in over 48 hours. It is better to see a doctor than to wait out your symptoms.

A Word From Verywell

Natural remedies are intended for mild symptoms and are not always the best solution. Ideally, these natural remedies will be used in conjunction with a treatment plan provided by a healthcare professional.

Nothing can replace a healthcare provider's diagnosis. If you haven’t already, contact a healthcare provider about your symptoms so that you can begin a treatment plan that is right for your situation.

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12 Sources
Verywell Fit uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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  7. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Lupus awareness. Updated July 26, 2020.

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