Getting diagnosed with osteoarthritis (OA) is not entirely negative: understanding the condition that you have is the first step in treating it. Let’s discuss OA, along with five natural therapies to curb pain and improve joint function.
Osteoarthritis: description & natural treatments
Osteoarthritis, also known as degenerative joint disease, is diagnosed more than any other chronic joint condition. A total of 27 million people are afflicted with it in the United States, according to the Arthritis Foundation. OA can occur to any of the hundred of joints in the human body, but it is most typically found in the knees; hips; base of the thumb and fingers; big toe; and neck and lower back.
In a healthy joint, there is cartilage at the end of every bone, protecting the bones and allowing the joints to move smoothly. Osteoarthritis means that the cartilage is deteriorating, resulting in pain, inflammation, and functional difficulties.
The traditional treatments for osteoarthritis have included prescription painkillers and even surgery. However, doctors and patients are increasingly avoiding potential side-effects and complications by turning to natural therapies for relief and recovery. Five of the most common at-home approaches are exercise; weight loss; heat and ice/cold therapy; an anti-inflammatory diet; and supplement use.
Natural treatment #1 – Exercise
Strengthening and cardiovascular exercises help build the muscle that supports your joints, notes UCLA rheumatologist Roy Altman, MD. “Six times your weight goes through your knee every time you stamp down," he says. “If you have decent muscles around the knee, they absorb some of that shock.”
Natural treatment #2 – Control weight
Consider that each pound of extra weight on your body results in 4 additional pounds of pressure on your knees. Research has shown that those who lose weight through diet and exercise see better outcomes from physical therapy and other medical treatments.
Natural treatment #3 – Heat and ice/cold therapy
Heat improves circulation and helps loosen tight muscles. Cold reduces inflammation. These are the two basic elements of thermotherapy.
Typically ice is recommended for flare-ups, and heat is recommended for treatment of chronic aches. Listen to your body’s response, and discuss this option with your doctor.
Natural treatment #4 – Supplements
One supplement that works well for OA is fish oil (or, alternatively, flaxseed oil) because of its anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids. Other supplements that have tested well for treating osteoarthritis include avocado soybean unsaponifiables (ASUs) and SAMe (s-adenosyl-L-methionine). Glucosamine and chondroitin are very popular, but tests on effectiveness have had mixed findings.
Natural treatment #5 – Anti-inflammatory diet
Inflammation is responsible for a significant amount of OA pain, so an anti-inflammatory diet can make a big difference. Great food choices are “horseradish, mustard, garlic, onions, watercress, parsley, celery, pickles, lemon, and rose-hip tea,” explains Everyday Health. “The omega-3 fatty acids in nuts, seeds, and fish also can reduce inflammation.”
Beyond the DIY approach
Have you been diagnosed with osteoarthritis? At Envista Medical, we work with you to develop a holistic plan that uses non-surgical, minimally invasive methods for pain treatment. Stop the pain – once and for all.