Arthritis is a very common ailment and is one of the leading causes of disability today. To define arthritis would be like looking for a needle in a haystack as arthritis is a broad term for over 100 conditions of varying causes which damage the joints. To keep it simple, I’d say arthritis is a degenerative or inflammatory disease of the bone resulting from different causes.
If you have arthritis of any kind, the main symptoms you would feel are joint pains, swelling, stiffness, and a reduced ability to use the joint. Arthritis can affect any joint, therefore when you’ve got hip arthritis, for example, you would feel pain, swelling, and stiffness in the affected hip. The knee and hip joints are most commonly affected with arthritis.
The pain you feel in the affected joint when you have arthritis, might be of varying severity and character. It could be mild and occurring sparingly and in other cases, it could be so severe with very frequent attacks.
I would provide you with information about the major forms of arthritis and their general treatment.
Causes of Arthritis
Osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis are the major forms of arthritis and they both have different causes. Osteoarthritis is a wear-and-tear form of arthritis. I say this because osteoarthritis is a form of arthritis that results when the cartilage- the slick cushion which lines the adjoining surfaces of the bones in a joint- wears off due to age-related weakening and overuse. This causes the bone to glide over each other directly causing the symptoms of arthritis. Osteoarthritis is commonly seen in people older than 50 years.
Rheumatoid arthritis is not caused by wearing off of the cartilage, but by the immune system erroneously attacking all components of the joint, damaging them and resulting in pain. This is what doctors call an autoimmune disease. The white blood cells make up the immune cells, and in these diseases, they attack the tissues mistaking them for foreign bodies.
Most other forms of arthritis occur as a result of inflammatory damage to the joint. Inflammation is what happens to a tissue when white blood cells are recruited to help fight off foreign bodies such as infective agents from a tissue. In the course of fighting the agents, your white blood cells could cause a damage or two to the tissue being “protected”. This is what is called inflammation.
There are other common types of arthritis, such as septic arthritis which is caused by bacteria or fungi which enters your joint from a neighbouring infected organ or through the blood from a distant infection, damaging the joint structures.
Let me give you a list of what places you at risk of arthritis in general:
- Advancing age
- Trauma to the joint
- Family history of arthritis
- Repetitive use of a joint
- Deposition of metal crystals
- Previous inflammation of the joint
- Inherited metabolic diseases such as hemochromatosis where there is excess build-up of iron in the blood which could in turn deposit in the joint, causing inflammation.
- Underlying disorder in the structure of bone
- Diabetes mellitus.
- Previous surgical procedures.
How to Cure Arthritis
Most forms of arthritis are chronic disorders which you might end up managing for a long time, or perhaps, the rest of your life. You should note that except for the infective forms, arthritis has no cure. Therefore, you would need some home remedies which provide significant relief from the joint symptoms. Early and regular use of these home remedies would prevent dependence on pain killers and would prevent you from undergoing surgery for the arthritic joint. Your doctor would intervene, recommending surgery or more effective medications, if your symptoms remain unabated after employing the home remedies.
Home Remedies for Arthritis
Are you suffering from this arthritis? Then stop worrying, here are some effective natural home remedies to relieve the discomfort and pain.
Turmeric, a yellow spice that contains a powerful compound called curcumin which helps to heal the inflammation. It is used especially to reduce the pain and swelling in the people who are suffering from the arthritis. So, take turmeric regularly either in capsule form or turmeric water or turmeric in cooked food or turmeric mixed in warm milk and drink this milk before going to bed to get control over the pain.
Ginger has the ability to increase the blood circulation and also acts as anti inflammatory which remove the inflammatory chemicals away from the painful joints. So, intake of ginger regularly will helps a lot to healing arthritis. Take half teaspoon of ginger powder or 30 grams (approximately 6 teaspoons) of fresh ginger once in a day. Or you can apply ginger oil regularly on the painful area to reduce the pain. Or you can simply eat the ginger regularly either in the raw or in cooked or in tincture, ale forms to get relief from the joint pain and inflammation.
3. Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV)
Apple cider vinegar is rich in calcium, magnesium, potassium and phosphorus which are very essential in relieving the joint pain. So, take a cup of warm water and add a teaspoon of ACV and honey in it. Mix this in water and drink this daily in the morning to remove the buildup toxins in the joints and connective tissues.
Cinnamon helps to give relief from the arthritis pain and its symptoms. So, take a half teaspoon of cinnamon powder and a tablespoon of honey. Mix these two in a cup of warm water and drink this regularly in the morning on an empty stomach. Or you can make a paste of cinnamon and honey and apply it on the painful area by massaging gently.
5. Green Tea
Green tea contains a chemical compound called quercetin, a powerful anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant that prevent or ease the symptoms of RA. According to Iowa Women’s Health Study, it’s clear that women who drank three or more cups of this green tea per day are 60 percent less likely to develop RA and its symptoms rather than women who didn’t drink this green tea. So, drink this regularly at regular intervals to get rid of this problem.
Capsaicin is a substance which gives the hot peppers heat to give relief and also to divert the brain to another topic rather than arthritis pain. Take either its pate or powder or any other supplement form and rub this on the joints where the arthritis pain is coming then it starts to irritate your nerve endings and also gives some relief from the pain also.
Cloves have an anti inflammatory chemical compound called eugenol which helps to heal the pain of arthritis. It also contains anti-oxidants which give relief from the pain and swelling that was caused by the arthritis. So, intake of cloves in any form will defiantly helps you a lot in reducing the pain.
Boswellia is a natural anti-inflammatory which helps to give relief from the joint pain and inflammation. Research says that boswellia contains boswellic acid which are able to stop the formation of leukotrienes, the immune cells responsible for the inflammation. So, take its supplement in any form regularly to get rid of the arthritis. It not only cures arthritis but also helps to get relief from the ulcerative, asthma, etc. so, it’s very healthy to use it regularly.
Cherries are rich in magnesium (natural pain killer) and potassium (acts as diuretic) that helps to reduce the inflammation by riding the tissue of fluid, this will efficiently treats the arthritis particularly gout.also helps to treat arthritis particularly gout. So, take it regularly either in the form of tinned, frozen, fresh or syrup (a strong, sweet drink obtained by boiling some cherries in water for about few minutes till the water came to half) to get relieve from the arthritis.
Alfalfa is one of the herb which is rich in minerals and helps to regulate pH levels to heal the people who suffers from the arthritis. You can make a tea by adding some alfalfa seeds to a cup of boiling water and let it stir and steep for few minutes. Then strain the tea and drink this twice a day for about 2 – 3 weeks to reduce the inflammation.
Regular massaging of your arthritic joints will helps to reduce the pain and stiffness. Massage will helps to improve your motion and makes you feel better to do the work. First of all consult your doctor and then proceed to work with your physical therapist or massage therapist who have experience in massaging to the people who are suffering from the arthritis. Learn some self-massage techniques or have scheduled appointments with the therapist.
Research says that SAM-e helps to relieve from the arthritis pain by increasing the blood levels of the proteoglycans, a molecule which seems to play an important role in preserving cartilage by helping to keep it well oxygenated. So, it’s recommended to take everyday 400 milligrams of SAM-e dose twice a day in any form of the supplement to get relief from the arthritis pain. A SAM-e study which was sponsored by U.S government has proved that it is comparably equal to anti inflammatory drugs to fight against the arthritis pain.
13. Hot and Cold Compress
You can apply either heat or cold compress to the joints which are aching will definitely provides significant relief from its pain. Heat compress, you can apply either electric blanket, mitts, heating pads or hot packs, etc. or you can heat the things for at least 20 minutes and apply it to your arthritis painful area to get relief from the fever. Or you can simply take hot water bath or showers which can helps to soothe your pain. Then coming to cold compress as it will also works well in removing the pain from arthritis (joints). For this you have to wrap an ice cubes in a wash cloth or towel and try to hold and press this on the sore joint or you can use the frozen tea bags, peas or corn, etc. by pressing it to the joints where you’re getting the arthritis.
14. Thunder God Vine
Thunder god vine is a supplement that has been derived from the perennial vine. The root is peeled away to make this herbal supplement. It is used in the conditions who has auto immune illnesses and inflammatory. As it contains anti inflammatory activities and also have immune boosting properties. So, regular intake of this supplement will helps you to get relief from the arthritis.
Acupuncture helps to give relief from the pain and disability due to arthritis. Research also says that acupuncture will relieve pain what was caused by arthritis. Acupuncture is the process of inserting thin needles in certain pressure points to get relief from the pain. But make sure to select the perfect practitioner before starting the process.
Borage seed oil contains anti inflammatory property which helps to relieve arthritis and its symptoms. So, take few drops of this seed oil and massage it on the affected part to get heal tender and swollen joints. Or you can simply drink a teaspoon of borage seed oil every day for quick relief from the pain, as this oil won’t harm your body but make sure that not to ingest seeds or other parts directly.
17. Epsom Salt
Epsom salt contains magnesium sulphate, and magnesium is a mineral useful for treating diseases involving bone and muscle. Magnesium relaxes your muscles and nerves, and eases pain. You should note that magnesium is also one of the minerals in our bodies which makes bones stronger, so taking magnesium supplements or Epsom salt when you have arthritis is a fantastic idea.
Additionally, magnesium helps to increase the pH in tissues, making them more alkaline (less acidic). This is good for your joints because some inflammatory joint diseases thrive in acidic environment.
In addition to taking magnesium capsules, go grocery shopping for food items rich in magnesium including leafy vegetables, nuts, and legumes. Also get magnesium oil and apply on the affected joint for soothing relief from the pain.
18. Olive oil
The main ingredient of olive oil is olecanthal, which inhibits enzymes which produce prostaglandins. Prostaglandins are chemicals in our bodies which make us feel pain. Heat destroys this key ingredient of olive oil and so you should use extra virgin olive oil or have the cold-pressed form.
19. Dandelion leaves
Dandelion leaves have high amounts of vitamin A and C which are what I call mop-up vitamins, because they help clear up chemicals which damage tissues. In simple term, these vitamins are strong anti-oxidants. Additionally, dandelion leaves contain linoleic acid which helps to suppress inflammation. You can enjoy dandelion leaves in salad or as tea.
20. Blackstrap Molasses Drink
This drink has high amounts of calcium, magnesium, and potassium, all of which are essential for giving your bone its strength. This makes it a very effective home remedy which has been used by many for many decades.
21. White Willow Tea
White willow tea has been described as the original aspirin because of salicin, its active ingredient. Salicin is converted to salicyclic acid, somewhat similar to acetyl salicyclic acid which is the active ingredient in aspirin. White willow tea has been used for pain relief right from the 5th century.
One way white willow tea may be preferable to aspirin is that salicylic acid is formed from salicin after passing the stomach, hence causing little or no stomach irritation which occurs when you use aspirin.
You could drink white willow tea daily for relief from the aches and pains that come with arthritis.
22. Peppermint Eucalyptus Oil Blend
Peppermint eucalyptus oil has effective analgesic properties and it provides a soothing relief when you apply on the aching joint.
23. Juniper Berry Teas
Try this and get very significant relief from your sore joints. Juniper berries contain terpinene-4-ol. A chemical which suppresses a group of white blood cells which are one of the culprits in rheumatoid arthritis. If you drink the tea daily, the inflammation which causes rheumatoid arthritis would subside, thereby reducing the joint symptoms you feel.
As I earlier noted, white blood cells are your immune cells and they also mediate inflammation.
24. Bosweilla Supplements
Bosweilla, also known as Frankincense, is a plant found in Asia and Africa. The extract of this plant is a very good pain killer, thanks to its anti-inflammatory properties. Bosweilla does a good job in relieving your symptoms by suppressing the white blood cells which trigger inflammation, and eventual damage of your joints. These supplements are taken as capsules only and you could get it without your doctor’s prescription.
25. Pectin and Grape Juice
Pectin is a carbohydrate substance found in plant cell walls, where it helps to keep the cells compacted together. Pectin is extracted from these plants and made into forms of jam and jellies. Pectin is best used with grape juice and it helps to relieve arthritis symptoms by keeping the synovial lining of your joint intact. The synovial lining of your joint produces the synovial fluid which is a lubricant which helps the bones of the joints glide over each other without friction and pain. Why I mentioned that you combine pectin with grape juice is because grape juice reduces inflammation, making effects of both substances synergistic. Mix both substances and drink to your relief.
You would find great relief using pectin extracts on your joint
26. Golden Raisins and Gin
Gin has been used as a home remedy for arthritis by many in the old days. Gin flavour is obtained from juniper berries which, as noted above, have anti-inflammatory properties. Golden raisins, on the other hand, are processed using sulphides, and these sulphides help to strengthen cartilage and bones. So when you drink golden raisins, what you are doing is adding more sulphides to keep your bones and cartilages strong and the inflammation at bay.
27. Omega-3 fatty acids
Omega-3 fatty acids are present in fatty fish. These fatty acids have a lot of benefits including mopping up pro-inflammatory chemicals and preventing the production of some others. You can choose to consume foods with high omega-3 fatty acids such as nuts, mackerel and sardines, or take fish oil and omega-3 supplements.
28. Diet Plan
Planning perfect diet by including the essential vitamins and minerals will definitely helps to control the arthritis by removing the pain in your joints.
- Intake omega -3 fatty acids in your diet which helps to lessen the inflammation and pain that is caused by arthritis. Omega -3 fatty acids are rich in salmon fish, flaxseeds, nuts, etc will helps to produce anti-inflammatory fats called resolvins, this helps a lot in healing the arthritis.
- Pomegranate juice, which contains both anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties that helps to protect your cartilage. This juice will lower an inflammatory chemical linked with over production of certain enzyme, this enzyme helps to replace cartilage but if take over then it wear away the cartilage.
- Take the food which is rich in antioxidants, vitamin C and vitamin E in your diet. However our body contains free radicals (unstable molecules that attack our healthy cells and causes arthritis) which destroys the cartilage’s ability to maintain and repair itself. So regular intake of vitamin C (citrus fruits), antioxidants and vitamin E (green leafy vegetables, etc.) will helps a lot in healing the joints pain.
- Eat pineapple which contains bromelain (a protein-digesting enzyme) will helps to bring down some inflammation and reduces the pain of RA, osteoarthritis. Eat this regularly between your meals but not with meals and also not to eat canned or its juice.
Tips to Reduce the Arthritis:
Try these simple tips regularly to get relief from the arthritis now and also in future by following regularly.
- Keep moving your joints as much as possible why because these movements will function your joints better for a longer period of time.
- Have some regular exercises like walking, gardening or even housekeeping which will helps to get rid of the problem. You can also do some hand exercise in either a sink or bowl filled with warm water to get additional ease or comfort from the arthritis. But make sure that not to overdo the exercise if it makes your pain worse, then you can lessen the frequency or the amount of exercise. Or if it is giving relief then continue doing it.
- Playing in a pool will also helps you to get relief from the arthritis as it a simple exercise. You can choose heated pool or whirlpool but take the advice of your doctor whether to do or not if you’re pregnant or suffering from any chronic health problems. This warm water will helps to loosen the joints and make muscles more flexible to move.
- Don’t over use over the counter creams or pain killers unless and until your doctor prescribed to you as these may give temporary relief but it activate the enzymes which will breakdown the cartilage in the joints when use continuously.
- Put a scarf around your elbow or knee joint when it pains but not too tightly. You can wear a pair of stretch gloves as it reduces the swelling in arthritis fingers. Or you can wear electric gloves with battery operated mitts at night while you go to sleep.
- Use down blankets to warm up your joints and get relief from the pain. If you are allergic to down blanket then use electric blanket which gives relief from the pain and discomfort.
- Lose weight if you’re overweight as the excess weight will always puts it stress on the knee or joints. It’s better and recommended to be in perfect wait and lose the weight as early as possible if you’re over weight.
- Prepare a plan everyday which is realistic, written schedule and do all the tasks by thinking that you have the essential energy and enthusiasm.
- Try to avoid holding one position for a longer time as this will add to stiffness and discomfort. Try to relax and stretch your joints as much as possible. And also always use your arm rather than your hand or outstretched arm.
- Use eucalyptus oil or oil of winter green by taking few drops of this oil and rub it on the skin where your joints are paining. But make to check or consult doctor before rubbing the oil as it causes some skin reaction to some people. And also remember that not to apply this under heating pad or hot compress as this action will cause the skin to burn or irritate the skin.
- Consume fish oil of 1 – 2 teaspoons daily or take fish oil supplements in the morning on an empty stomach to get relief from the arthritis.
- If you have knee or hip arthritis, for example, you would do the affected joint a lot of good if you transfer stress from the affected joint to another object or to the other joint, or reduce the weight-bearing burden of the joint altogether. This is achieved by using assistive devices including canes, walking frames, and braces. Other assistive devices include proper footwear and shoe insoles recommended by your doctor. These shoe insoles are particularly helpful if you have ankle joint arthritis. The good insoles reduce the stress placed on your ankle by your shoes.
How do doctors cure arthritis?
Most times, your doctor would know you have arthritis just by examining the joint and by conducting some laboratory investigations.
The most important set of investigations needed to confirm if you have arthritis is imaging study. This comprises plain radiographs, bone scans, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), computed tomography (CT) scan, and ultrasound scans. These imaging studies visualize the affected joint with different levels of clarity, providing your doctors with what joint structure is damaged and how much damage has been done, hence aiding them in determining the exact cause of the arthritis and the best mode of treatment to adopt for you.
These imaging studies are not the only investigations recommended by your doctor, you would also have your blood sample collected for a few other tests such as complete blood count, erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR), presence of rheumatoid factor (RF) – a chemical seen in your blood if you have arthritis, and presence of pro-inflammatory chemicals, all of which are geared towards identifying the cause of your arthritis symptoms.
Additionally, your doctor would order for a test called, arthrocentesis, here your doctor would take fluid sample from inside your joint via a long needle. The fluid is then analysed. Some cells found in the fluid may give your doctor a clue to the cause of your arthritis.
Medicines that Cure Arthritis
If your doctor is going to prescribe any drug for your arthritis, it is going to be a pain killer. These pain killers are of different classes, some can be obtained over the counter without having to wait for a doctor’s prescription, while others may require only your doctor’s prescription for you to obtain them.
The drugs which relieve the symptoms of arthritis include the following.
- Acetaminophen: This is the simplest analgesic, you can find this drug at local stores without your doctor’s prescription.
- Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS): These drugs are pain relievers which act by inhibiting the production of chemicals called prostaglandins, which as I earlier mentioned, cause us to feel pain. Examples of these drugs are ibuprofen, diclofenac, and aspirin. You could use the oral or topical forms of these drugs.
Although, you can get these drugs without your doctor’s prescription, you need to read the labels well for instructions. There are some strict rules you must be aware of before using these drugs. For example, if you have asthma or stomach ulcer, this group of pain killers is not right for you, as it may cause your symptoms to get worse. Additionally, children should not be given aspirin, because it has a fatal complication called Reye’s syndrome if they use it when they have any viral illnesses such as the flu.
Furthermore, you should not use these drugs for too long to avoid stomach irritation or even bleeding into the stomach.
- Opioids: This group of drugs act at the level of spinal cord, altering our perception of and response to pain. Examples of these drugs are tramadol and oxycodone. You can only obtain these drugs via your doctor’s prescription because these drugs could be very addictive.
- Steroids: These drugs also inhibit the production of prostaglandins and are usually injected into the affected joint to cause pain relief. Your doctor would recommend this if other drugs have not been giving you significant relief. Examples of steroids your doctor would use to treat your arthritis includes triamcinolone and methylprednisolone.
- Muscle relaxants: Examples of these drugs are dantrolene and baclofen and are used to relax the muscles around your affected joint. Why is this necessary? you might ask, well the thing is when one or more of your joints are inflamed and painful, the muscles around them might contract forcefully in a bid to protect it, however this muscle contraction worsens the pain, therefore you need muscle relaxants to make the muscle more flexible and to reduce this pain.
- Capsaicin: This drugs works by reducing the amount of a chemical called substance-P which transmits pain signals to our brains. You would commonly find the ointment form of this drug and you would find it very effective. You could also prepare this using cayenne at home. Cayenne is rich in capsaicin.
- Other drugs: Your doctor may decide to add antidepressants to your list of drugs. These drugs would provide you comfort and relieve your chronic pain. There are also other drugs called Disease modifying anti-rheumatic drugs (DMARDs), these include gold, penicillamine, and chondroitin sulphate and are prescribed if you have rheumatoid arthritis and if NSAIDs have not been so effective.
In addition to these drugs, your doctor would recommend physiotherapy and occupational therapy, which are a series of activities which you are directed to engage in to reduce these symptoms. These activities may include special forms of exercises such as stretch exercises of the muscles around the affected joint to keep the muscles around the joint flexible and less rigid and using specialized seats at your office to relieve the symptoms. These are not instituted by your doctor but by a group of healthcare professionals called physical therapists and occupational therapists.
Now, after employing the home remedies and using the above drugs, if you do not feel any significant improvement in your symptoms or they even get worse, your doctor would recommend surgery.
What are the forms of surgery your doctor would recommend? Well, there are different types of surgery for treating your arthritis, and these depend on the severity of your symptoms. These procedures include
In this surgical procedure, your doctor does not need to make a large cut on the skin to get to the joint, he makes a small pinhole through which a tube is passed and the procedure is done via that tube. Arthroscopy involves removal of the joint structures that are damaged. Removal of these structures tend to reduce recruitment of pro-inflammatory chemicals to the joint.
Here, your doctor removes a part of the bones making up the joint, such that what remains is the less damaged or undamaged part of the bone. This shifts weight-bearing from that damaged side of your joint to the healthy side. The advantage of this procedure is that it delays the need for a more invasive surgery on your joint.
Joint replacement surgery:
After all else have failed, your doctor would advise you on and schedule you for this procedure. Here, all or a part of the affected joint is removed surgically and replaced with a metal or plastic prosthesis. It helps to significantly reduce the pain you feel when you have severe arthritis. Your doctor would also choose this approach if the other surgical techniques would not be sufficient to repair the diseased joint.
Arthritis is a broad term for over 100 diseases which cause damage to a joint and chronic symptoms such as pain, swelling, and difficulty using the joint. The major forms of arthritis are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.
Since arthritis is a chronic disease, you would find home remedies very vital for relief and comfort using the affected joint. However, your doctor would recommend drugs to compliment these home remedies, and surgery if both approaches have failed to give you significant relief.
Tell me about your experience with arthritis, what has been very helpful in reducing your symptoms? Also if you have any questions or suggestions, share with us in the comment section.
They are many people suffering from this arthritis and also the number is increasing yearly. It became a common problem that won’t get cured but luckily there are many natural home remedies and tips listed in this article which will alleviate its symptoms and relieve its pain and inflammation whenever you try these remedies. Even though, if you can’t find any relief from the pain and discomfort then consult doctor as it can lead to any other health problem.