4 Tips to Reduce Arthritis Pain Naturally
Updated: Aug 10
Many people with arthritis describe more severe pain correlated with major weather changes, when thunderstorms are forecasted, or when temperatures drop. Medical research has not been able to correlate weather changes to differences in pain ratings among study participants, however, this is something I hear often from patients. Whether it's the rainy, stormy weather we've been experiencing here in Ontario or the fact that most people are much more active in the summer months, arthritis pain can put a serious damper on your summer plans.
In the image, I've included some tips to reduce arthritis pain to help get you through your summer activities. While these tips won't address the root cause or give you a long-term solution for your pain, they should provide some pain relief without the use of medications. As always, check with your healthcare provider before starting a new supplement, diet, or health routine to ensure it is safe for you. See below for a more in-depth description of each tip.
1. Keep Moving!
You have fluid (called synovial fluid) contained within your joints and when you move, this fluid moves and lubricates the structures that make up your joint, keeping these structures healthy. Movement also helps to bring blood flow to the area, which brings nutrients that your joints need to function properly and to heal.
Movement can be painful with arthritis. Exercises that are non-weight bearing (think swimming, biking, rowing, certain yoga poses, floor-based exercise routines) tend to be less painful, while also providing you with the benefits of movement. Find an exercise that allows you to engage in pain-free movement.
2. Apply hot or cold compresses
Choose whichever temperature provides you with relief. Some people prefer warm compresses and others prefer cold compresses. Generally, cold temperatures are preferred for more inflammatory-type symptoms (heat, swelling, redness) and warm temperatures are preferred when there is muscle tension or increased blood flow to the area is desired.
Ensure the temperature you choose is tolerable (you can test this on the inside of your forearm) and does not cause pain. If using ice packs, ensure they are wrapped in a cloth to prevent your skin from freezing. Do not leave on for more than 15 minutes at a time and give your skin time to re-adjust to it's normal temperature between applications.
3. Apply Castor Oil Topically
Castor oil acts as an anti-inflammatory agent and helps with pain relief when applied topically to the affected joint. Castor oil can be applied directly to the skin or in the form of a pack (a cloth soaked in castor oil, then applied to the joint). The oil can be washed off after 20 minutes or left on overnight. Applying a heating pad over castor oil can help the oil to be absorbed.
Caution: Never apply castor oil to open wounds or take internally. Castor oil stains easily, so do not use it with nice linens.
4. Try Acupuncture
Acupuncture works very well for pain relief in arthritic conditions. When needles are inserted into the area of pain, blood flow is drawn to the area. Healing components and nutrients are carried in the blood and supplied to the areas that need them. Acupuncture can also be used to release muscle tension that can be generated from favouring a painful joint.
5. Pay attention to the foods you eat.
Certain foods cause more inflammation than others, particularly if you are sensitive to them. Common food triggers for arthritic pain that I commonly see are nightshade vegetables (tomatoes, potatoes, peppers, and eggplant), dairy, gluten, and sugary foods. Not everyone shares the same triggers and it may be worthwhile to investigate what specific foods are triggers for you.
There are many ways to manage arthritic pain naturally and methods used vary depending the type of arthritis you have. Beyond simple pain relieving techniques, there are a number of dietary, lifestyle, herbal and supplemental options to address the root cause of arthritis pain, prevent future joint damage, and even help to repair cartilage within the joint. Methods used and treatment options vary depending the type of arthritis you have and are individualized to you specifically.
As always, check with your healthcare provider before starting a new supplement, diet, or health routine to ensure it is safe for you.