Joint pain is uncomfortable and can be debilitating enough to put a damper on your everyday life. If you’re someone who suffers from joint pain, you may be worried that you have to opt for something like surgery or take some daily medication to treat your discomfort. Thankfully, there are some ways that can help relieve joint pain naturally.
“Joint pain is caused by inflammation in the area, and there are many conditions that cause this, including osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, gout, and previous traumatic injuries,” says Physical Therapist Fei Jiang, PT, DPT, OCS. Since many different issues can cause joint pain, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution. However, there are some habits that you can pick up that can help keep your joints healthy.
“Keeping the joints loose and warm helps to not only improve mobility and function for those with joint pain, but also help with pain management.”
“In general, chronic joint pain can be managed with conservative treatment or natural remedies. Acute joint pain, depending on the source, may need more medical attention,” says Jiang. “A trip to the primary care doctor may help individuals with joint pain figure out if they are able to manage symptoms with conservative treatments or if they would need more specialized care from a rheumatologist.”
Incorporating some natural remedies may be able to help aid with the pain you have, even if it doesn’t get rid of it completely. Here are eight ways to relieve joint pain naturally.
You can help diminish pain in your joints by engaging in some stretching or gentle yoga. “Stretching can help loosen tight muscles, tendons, and ligaments around stiff joints,” says Jiang. “In doing so, this can help take off the pressure around the joints and reduce pain.”
Hot and Cold Therapy
There’s a reason that taking a hot shower or bath feels so soothing. It can provide your body with some relief. “Putting heat around stiff joints, or using a sauna or steam room is a good way to help relax stiff joints and muscles, as well as increase circulation,” says Jiang. Cold therapy can also help, as well. “Cryotherapy, or regular icing, of the affected area involves applying a cold-pack or bag of frozen vegetables to the affected area for 20-30 minutes at a time,” says Primary Care Sports Medicine Doctor John Baldea.
Weight Loss With Exercise
Maintaining a healthy weight is important for your joint pain. Excess weight can put pressure on the joints, especially in the lower extremities. This makes engaging in regular exercise important when it comes to relieving joint pain. “As we like to say, ‘motion is lotion,’” says Jiang. “Keeping the joints loose and warm helps to not only improve mobility and function for those with joint pain but also help with pain management.”
The exercises below are particularly useful for those with joint pain.
Exercise is actually good for your joints, but you don’t want anything too hard on your body. “Biking is a great low-load activity that keeps the knee and hip joints moving and increases leg strength without high-impact,” says Jiang. “It will also help loosen the joint and improve mobility. Maintaining good leg strength is a great way to decrease pressure in the joints with everyday activities.”
Working out in water is another option when it comes to exercises that can help with joint pain relief. “Exercising in the pool is another great low-impact activity to help joints move, and improve strength in the muscles to better support the joints,” says Jiang. Aquatic exercises help reduce your body load compared to exercises done on land. This can reduce joint force on the hips and knees, according to research published in the journal PLoS One.
Something as simple as taking daily walks can help alleviate your joint discomfort, as walking helps build muscle that can help take the pressure off your joints. “Walking daily is a great low-load activity that helps move the whole body, therefore improving circulation and mobility in all major joints (including the shoulders, spine, and legs),” says Jiang.
Many doctors will advise patients to do physical therapy and perform home exercises to improve joint motion and build muscle strength around the joint to restore normal function. “Physical therapy entails one-on-one interactions with a physical therapist two to three times per week to assess the affected area, work on exercises and stretches, and teach home exercises to be performed daily,” says Baldea.
There are some natural remedies available on the market that may be able to assist with joint pain. Turmeric is one option. “Its active ingredient curcumin has anti-inflammatory effects in a variety of ways through suppression of the COX2 enzymes,” says Pain Management Specialist Medhat Mikhael, MD. A collagen supplement may improve symptoms caused by osteoarthritis and other joint problems. And, finally, Andrographis, an herb used in traditional Chinese medicine and Ayurveda, is an immune booster and has good anti-inflammatory potential with osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis, says Mikhael.
Consult with your doctor if you have joint pain, but keep up with your healthy habits to help relieve discomfort.