Joint pain is incredibly common in the United States, and it’s only getting worse. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), those suffering from joint pain symptoms grew from 10.5 million people to 14.6 million between 2002 and 2014. Considering we have an aging population, the CDC expects these numbers to increase.
These stats may be a little worrying at first glance, especially if you are already starting to experience symptoms of joint pain and discomfort. Joint pain can have a severe effect on an individual’s life, from being unable to work to having difficulty performing basic day-to-day functions. You don’t need to turn to prescription medication to alleviate your symptoms, however. There are ways you can manage and heal your joint pain naturally; here are five ways that may help you.
1. Low-Inflammation Diet
Diet is an essential cog in everything that we do, so it should come as no surprise that it can have a significant effect on pain symptoms. In terms of managing joint pain, employing a low-inflammation diet can help alleviate your symptoms. Here’s why:
- Fights inflammation. Studies have shown that using herbs and spices such as curcumin can be just as effective as pain medications such as NSAIDS. They do this by blocking the damaging enzymes that are linked to inflammation. We recommend using fresh ingredients, but if the rat race prevents you from cooking on a daily basis, you can also opt for supplements.
- Takes the ‘bad stuff’ out of your diet. Changing your diet to include low-inflammation foods (e.g. tomatoes, leafy green vegetables, and tomatoes, for example) is not the only step you need to take. A low-inflammation diet means taking out the bad stuff.
The foods that lead to inflammation and joint pain include refined carbs (think white pasta, bread, and rice), sugary foods (especially those with the refined kind!), anything that’s fried, and processed meats.
Many individuals suffering from joint pain believe that exercise can exacerbate their symptoms. However, exercise can in fact counter joint pain by improving your range of motion and ‘rebuilding’ the joints. Research conducted by the CDC noted that exercise is a ‘nonpharmacologic and underused’ method in reducing joint pain. Doing the right workouts can also help to strengthen the muscles in your legs, which helps take the load off your joints.
Exercise will also lead to weight loss. The relationship between obesity and joint pain is well-documented. Research has shown that losing 10% of body weight, in addition to exercise, has benefits in limiting and slowing down the progression of osteoarthritis. Other studies have shown that losing weight can also help in completely stopping the degeneration of your knee cartilage. At the very least, you can expect a significant slowdown, in addition to a reduction of symptoms.
The crucial point we need to make in terms of exercise is that you must avoid activities that will only worsen your joint pain. Please consult a health professional first. In addition, we recommend using a personal trainer, even if just for the first few sessions of your new exercise program. It’s important that you learn the right technique to prevent injury.
3. Ice Therapies
Thermotherapy is a natural treatment for joint pain, using cold to relieve symptoms. Icing is particularly helpful with acute pain, and cold treatments are beneficial for slowing circulation and result in reduction of inflammation and swelling.
What we like about this treatment option is that it is easy to implement and is quite inexpensive as well. You can either buy cheap pads from your local pharmacy or create your own at home. We do recommend experimenting with ice therapy, as every individual will respond differently to the extent, length, and type of application.
4. Improve Your Sleep
Sleep deprivation is a serious problem in modern society. According to the CDC, 1 in 3 adults don’t get enough shuteye. The American Academy of Sleep Medicine and Sleep Research Society suggests that adults between the ages of 18-60 should sleep at least seven hours per night. Not doing so can lead to a long list of problems: higher risk of obesity, high blood pressure, stroke, mental illness, obesity, and heart disease.
Recent studies have also shown that sleep deprivation can have a negative effect on joint pain symptoms. In other words, if you get fewer than the recommended seven hours per night, you can expect to experience higher degrees of pain. This is how you can ensure you get the rest you need:
- Avoid chemicals that lower sleep quality. If you want to get a good night’s sleep, ensure you avoid stimulants such as caffeine or tobacco.
- Set a schedule. Don’t confuse your body by going to sleep and waking up at different times each day. Instead, encourage your internal body clock to expect sleep at a given time.
- Establish a relaxing routine. Take an hour before your designated bedtime to transition into sleep. Take this time to relax. Read a book, listen to a podcast, or take a bath. Do not engage in activities that will increase your alertness, such as playing video games or doing work.
5. Natural Supplements
Together with our aforementioned advice, It is possible that you can treat your joint pain with the help of natural supplements. For example, taking glucosamine and chondroitin has been shown to be beneficial. According to a study from 2016, taking the two supplements together for 12 weeks or longer gave patients increased movement and reduced pain symptoms.
There are other supplements that also have peer-reviewed backing. The natural extract avocado soybean unsaponifiables (ASU) has shown promise in treating osteoarthritis, slowing its progression and improving symptoms. Many countries in Europe routinely prescribe this natural supplement for OA. For many people, ASU has helped to reduce or even eliminate the dependence on NSAIDs.