Tendons and ligaments attach bones to muscle, while cartilage cushions bones from rubbing. The result of overusing joints can be early symptoms of arthritis. Some daily activities can increase the likelihood of developing arthritis, which can be extremely painful. Natural methods to decrease joint pain due to arthritis can be useful to preventing a reliance on medications.
Increasing Physical Activity
According to the Centers for Disease Control, increasing physical activity can actually relieve joint pain from arthritis in some people. Low-impact physical activity (such as water aerobics) increases flexibility—which can reduce pain on moving the affected part. For this reason, physical therapy may be beneficial in reducing arthritis pain in elbows, knees, and hips.
Using Ice to Decrease Inflammation
Applying an ice pack can reduce inflammation and pain in the arthritic joint. The ice cubes or plastic-encased pack should be wrapped in a towel so as not cause an ice-burn on the skin. Pharmacies carry ice packs that can be struck by a fist or wrist to release the process causing the pack to get cold. These can be used to decrease swelling from a joint sprain, as well as in treatment for arthritis pain. Therefore, it is a good idea to keep one at home at all times.
Using Heat to Decrease Joint Pain
Heat supplies oxygen, improves flexibility, and decreases spasms (per the University of Rochester Medical Center). While it should not be used in new injuries (which require ice to decrease swelling), a hot bath can relieve joint pain due to overuse and arthritis. Many fitness centers have Jacuzzis, which have jets that can offer a soothing massage while soaking.
On the other hand, it is important to not remain in the hot water of a Jacuzzi more than 15-20 minutes at a time. Light-headedness and an increase in blood pressure can be precipitated by soaking in hot water longer than advised.
Acupuncture for Joint and Arthritis Pain
The National Institutes of Health reports acupuncture benefits for joint pain in a number of research studies. These were clinical trials in which some study subjects received acupuncture treatment while others received a placebo treatment. Research subjects with arthritis experienced short-term relief as compared to those who received the placebo treatment.
In alternative medicine for arthritis, neck pain has been especially found to be relieved by acupuncture. This relief may also occur because the neck is a common source of tension in people who are anxious and have chronic pain.
Herbal Remedies for Joint and Arthritis Pain
Some herbs used in the treatment of joint pain include ginger, feverfew, and willow bark extract (per the American College of Rheumatology website). Utilized for centuries in Chinese medicine, ginger can be found in tinctures, teas, and capsules. Meanwhile, the ancient Greeks used feverfew (native to Southeastern Europe) to treat inflammation. However, feverfew is contraindicated in pregnant women. Willow bark has been used for thousands of years, and was shown to be effective in relieving pain (according to the University of Maryland Medical Center). However, willow bark should not be used in people allergic to salicylates, taking an anti-coagulant, or by women who are pregnant or breast-feeding.
The main pharmaceutical drug treatment for arthritis pain is NSAIDs. However, there are alternative treatments for joint and arthritic pain.