Being an auto-immune disease, rheumatoid arthritis, which is caused by the inflammation of the joint, is treated most often by using anti-inflammatory medications like non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), corticosteroids and immunosuppressive drugs.
Even though, they have proven to be quite effective in relieving pain, you should bear in mind that the stronger the drug, the more severe its potential side effects are. Considering the several adverse effects like gastrointestinal disorders, heart stroke, etc., that these medications can cause, most people resort to natural remedies to obtain relief from arthritic joint pain.
Read on to gain knowledge on the wide range of therapies like heat and cold therapy, natural dietary supplements ,physical therapy and relaxation techniques that you can choose from to overcome arthritic joint pain.
Natural Remedies for Rheumatoid Arthritis Pain Relief
Heat and Cold Compress
Depending upon which symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis seem more bothersome to you, apply either a cold or a hot compress on the affected joints. In order to reduce the swelling and inflammation of the joint lining, place a cold compress on the affected joints for about 15 minutes and then use it again after 30 minutes for a couple of times.
Cold compress is the best way to help you deal with sudden flare-ups, since it gives an instant relief from inflammation and pain associated with arthritis. If you experience stiffness in your muscles, do not use a cold pack, since it can aggravate the symptoms and worsen the condition. Use heat pads, warm and damp towel or just take a hot shower by allowing the water to flow through the affected joints. Heat promotes blood circulation and relaxes the muscles, thereby helping you overcome the problem of stiff muscles.
Did you know what you eat can govern the response of your immune system to certain infections? Well, yes it surely does. Enrich your diet with spices, normally used as flavoring agents like ginger, turmeric and a combination of cinnamon and honey to utilize the natural anti-inflammatory agents that these spices possess. You can also take supplements of these spices that are available in the market, but bear in mind that these are packed with higher dosages and can cause similar gastrointestinal side effects that aspirin and ibuprofen does.
Taking 500-1000 mg of turmeric, half peeled ginger after every meal and a tablespoon of honey mixed with half a tablespoon of cinnamon powder, first thing in the morning has been found to be most effective in combating inflammation and joint pains in patients suffering from rheumatoid arthritis. Also, do not hesitate to include other foods with immunomodulatory activities like whole grains, fruits, green leafy vegetables, vitamin B complex, etc., to suppress inflammation in the tissue lining the joints.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Not all fats are bad for your body and we do in fact, require certain “good fats” as a part of our diet, since the body cannot synthesize them. Patients suffering from rheumatoid arthritis opt for Omega-3-fatty acids, considering the fact that they are the most potent natural anti-inflammatory agents. Several studies support its role in reducing morning stiffness and joint pain in patients suffering from rheumatoid arthritis.
Several studies support its role of these good fats in reducing morning stiffness and joint pain in patients suffering from rheumatoid arthritis, by decreasing the production of substances that trigger inflammation. Rich sources of omega-3-fatty acids include sea foods like salmon, sardines, tuna, flaxseed oil, etc.
You can take one tablespoon of these oils thrice in a day or just sprinkle them on your morning cereal, in smoothies or use it as a healthy salad dressing. Nevertheless, avoid omega-3’s if you are also taking blood-thinning drugs like warfarin and aspirin, since these fats can interact with them, thin the blood even more and cause indigestion and bleeding. So always consult your doctor before you start taking these supplements.
Over a period of time, toxins in the form of metabolic by-products can overburden your liver and trigger inflammation in the body. Hence, consumption of foods rich in antioxidants like vitamin C containing citrus fruits, kiwi, papaya, broccoli, spinach, avocados and other foods like rice bran, brewer’s yeast, green tea can help flush out toxins from the body, preventing them from accumulating around the joint linings.
Also, probiotics containing beneficial bacteria like organic yogurt rich in lactobacilli not only speed up your metabolism but also allows your body to get rid of harmful bacteria that can trigger inflammation. Speaking of detoxification, no other food or drink has been proven to be as effective as water, for aiding in the elimination of harmful toxins from the body.
There is no dearth of exercises for strengthening and increasing the flexibility and the range of motion of your muscles. Regular exercise and yoga soothes and your nerves and releases endorphins, which are natural pain killers to help you deal with joint aches.
Pranayam or deep abdominal breathing decreases the production of stress hormones that can cause the immune system to go off balance. Start by walking for about 30 minutes per day and then gradually adapt an aerobic exercise regimen by consulting a health professional to guide you on what exercises suit your condition the most. Also, aquatic exercises performed in a pool can help you have an overall body workout, besides allowing you to have fun.
Relaxation Therapies to Relief Stress
Stress is known to be the major culprit behind promoting the build-up of toxins in the body that leads to an excruciating pain in the joints. In order to suppress this trigger, practice relaxation therapies like visualization techniques for blocking the mechanism of auto-immunity and psychotherapy for altering emotional states that in turn, can have a great impact on the functioning of your immune system.
Several studies have supported the role of meditation and hypnotherapy in blocking the perception of pain by the nociceptors (pain receptors) in the brain. RA patients especially those suffering from back pains have found acupuncture to be greatly beneficial for reducing the frequency and severity of the joint aches. By piercing needles through certain trigger points on the body, acupuncturists aim at blocking pain signals by increasing the production of endorphins, thereby eliminating emotional imbalances responsible for altering the immune response.
The implementation of all the aforementioned remedies in conjunction with avoiding alcohol, red meat, caffeine, smoking, milk, eggs, pork and other foods that promote hypersensitivity can help you avoid flare-ups associated with joint pains and inflammation. While most of these remedies work in most cases, some people have reported no relief at all using some of these therapies. Hence, consult your doctor to find out which of these therapies can mitigate the symptoms of your condition and to prevent possible drug interactions that can lead to fatal consequences.