Osteoarthritis (OA) is a degenerative disease. Treatment relies on a combination of conventional medicine and lifestyle changes. Medications can treat pain, but there can be side effects when you take these long-term.
Home remedies, lifestyle changes, and natural remedies can help manage OA pain with fewer side effects. Certain methods may even prevent OA from getting worse.
Home remedies aren’t meant to replace your current treatment. But they may provide more relief for OA. It’s important, though, to discuss home remedies and lifestyle changes with your doctor before trying them.
Hot and Cold Compresses
When it comes to pain, hot and cold compresses may be very beneficial. They don’t cause the long-term side effects that medications might. Heat is helpful for joint stiffness, and cold compresses are best for joint pain.
Compresses can reduce muscle pain or spasms surrounding a joint. Making a compress can be as simple as using a warm or cold towel.
Alternate between hot and cold each for 5 minutes at least 4 times a day.
Epsom Salt Bath
Epsom salt baths can provide all over relief, especially for joint pain. The magnesium in Epsom salt may help with inflammation and pain. You can buy Epsom salt from a drugstore. These baths are safe enough to take as often as you’d like for 30 minutes at a time. Use 2 cups of Epsom salt in a bath of warm water at a temperature of about 102°F (38°C).
Topical Ointments and Creams
You may want to try topical versions as an alternative to oral over-the-counter (OTC) medications like acetaminophen and ibuprofen. These gels and creams may contain aspirin or analgesics to numb the pain. You can apply them directly to the affected joints. These products can work well for areas that are near the skin surface, such as your knees.
Another topical home remedy is capsaicin. Capsaicin is a compound made from hot chilli peppers. Most of the ointment that cause burning sensation have this compound as an ingredient (counter irritant).
Various types of assistive devices can offer added support without the need for medications. The exact devices you choose depend on the affected joints.
- Grabbing or Gripping Tools Knee Taping (be sure to have your doctor or physical therapist show you first)
- Shoe Inserts
Exercise can be difficult with painful joints. But staying active can reduce pain in the long run, and even strengthen muscles to prevent further joint damage. The Arthritis Foundation says exercise is “the most effective nondrug treatment for reducing pain and improving movement in osteoarthritis.”
Natural remedies are increasing in popularity for conditions like OA. In our country, people believe they may be safer since they have fewer side effects compared with traditional medications.
Green Tea: Anti-Inflammatory Beverage
Green tea contains polyphenols. These compounds may help reduce inflammation and the need for medications. Studies have reported green tea to increase cartilage protection.
Ginger: Pain Reducers
Oral ginger is also noted for reducing pain from OA. According to a 2015 study in Osteoarthritis and Cartilage, ginger taken long-term may even decrease the risk for OA-related disability. Due to the risk of side effects, the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health recommends using ginger moderately as a spice instead of supplement forms.
The biggest risk to ginger overdose is the withdrawal symptoms. Ginger can cause upset stomach, diarrhea, and heartburn. It may also interact with prescription medications, like Warfarin, because it’s an anticoagulant (blood thinner).
Turmeric (Curcumin): Treats Inflammation, Pain, and Stiffness
Curcumin is the active compound in turmeric. It’s is part of the ginger family, but may help OA in different ways. Studies show that the substance may fight inflammatory compounds. It may also help reduce pain and stiffness during an OA flare-up.
Eat OA-friendly Foods
Eating a balanced diet can help you feel better and lose weight. Research shows that certain foods are especially beneficial for OA.
Good Food for Arthritis:
- Citrus fruits
- Fish rich in omega-3 fatty acids (tuna, salmon, mackerel)
- Garlic (contains diallyl disulphide), which may reduce cartilage damage
- Green tea
- Low-fat dairy products (calcium and vitamin D may promote joint and bone health)
- Plant-based oils made from avocado, olives, safflower, and walnut.
When to see your doctor?
OA is a chronic (lifelong) condition. Managing condition and symptoms can go a long way in stopping further damage to your joints. Lifestyle changes and home and natural remedies can complement your treatment plan. They may even provide extra relief.
While such changes can make a big difference, it’s important to know when you need to see your doctor. You might need to make an appointment in the case of a flare-up, if your symptoms get worse, or if your current treatment plan isn’t helping. Your doctor should check your joint pain and stiffness for potential damage.