Anti-inflammatory drugs—prescription and over-the-counter—can ease your arthritis pain, but a host of other feel-good, stay-well measures can help you minimize pain and improve mobility.
1. Give glucosamine and chondroitin a try. There’s evidence that this combination can be effective in reducing pain and slowing cartilage loss for people with mild to moderate arthritis. Follow the dosage directions on the label. And keep at it: You might have to use it for a month or more before you begin to see benefits.
2. Take a half-teaspoon of powdered ginger or up to about 6 teaspoons of fresh ginger once a day. Research shows that ginger helps relieve arthritis pain, probably because of its ability to increase blood circulation, which ferries inflammatory chemicals away from painful joints.
3. Ask your doctor about the supplement SAM-e. It’s been shown to help relieve arthritis pain by increasing blood levels of proteoglycans—molecules that seem to play a key role in preserving cartilage by helping to keep it “plumped up” and well oxygenated. In a review of SAM-e studies sponsored by the U.S. government, the supplement proved comparable to anti-inflammatory drugs (such as ibuprofen) in fighting arthritis pain.
4. Apply heat to a painful joint, which can provide significant relief. For heat sources, you can use electric blankets and mitts, heating pads, or hot packs. Heat things up for 20 minutes. Simply taking a hot bath or shower can also be soothing.
5. Not a heat fan? Or opt for cold. Wrap an ice cube in a towel or washcloth, and press it to the sore joint. Alternatively, you can use a bag of frozen peas or corn.
6. Wear gloves to bed. If you frequently have stiff, swollen hands in the morning, wear a snug-fitting pair of gloves to bed. They’ll keep the swelling in check.
7. Eat more cold-water fish. Many people who supplement their diets with omega-3 fatty acids—found in cold-water fish like salmon—discover that pain and stiffness are lessened. These substances seem to discourage inflammation in the body.
8. If you dislike fish, get the healing oils in capsule form. If you take blood-thinning drugs, check with your doctor before taking fish-oil capsules.
9. Or take one tablespoon of flaxseed oil a day (as an alternative to fish-oil capsules). It’s loaded with the same type of omega-3’s. Take the oil straight, or add it to your salad dressing.
10. Rub on relief with capsaicin, a substance that gives hot peppers their “heat.” It irritates nerve endings, diverting your brain’s attention from arthritis pain.
11. Put a few drops ofoil of wintergreen or eucalyptus oil on the skin and rub it in. (Be cautious with wintergreen, however, since some people develop a skin reaction.) Also, don’t use either of these oils under a heating pad or hot compress, as the additional heat can cause them to burn or irritate the skin.
Adapted from 1,801 Home Remedies (Reader’s Digest)