Don’t let rheumatoid arthritis get you down. There are many natural ways to manage the pain of inflamed joints without resorting to pharmaceutical drugs.
Start by applying a hot pad or an ice pack to the swollen joint. An ice pack decreases inflammation and swelling during an attack, while a heating pad relaxes muscles and helps blood flow.
Magnet therapy offers an alternative approach for handling rheumatoid arthritis. Wearing bracelets, inserts, necklaces, or pads may improve the symptoms for some people.
Patients can also take natural supplements for pain relief. The most common herbs include thunder god vine, capsaicin, and turmeric.
(Related: 12 Conditions that mimic rheumatoid arthritis and could lead to misdiagnosis.)
Physical activity is a vital part of good health and maintaining working fitness in patients with rheumatoid arthritis. It may take the form of conventional physical exercise, tai chi, or yoga.
Ask a physical therapist about exercises that will help manage the pain and swelling caused by rheumatoid arthritis. Likely recommends include aerobics, strength training, range-of-motion exercises, and balance moves.
Each type of physical exercise improves an aspect affected. Strength training reinforces the muscles around joints, while balance moves help prevent falls and stumbles caused by rheumatoid arthritis attacks.
Tai chi is a “soft” type of martial arts. It calls for standing positions while going through slow movements that increase balance, flexibility, and strength.
The slow movements of tai chi will not put stress on the inflamed joints. Further, it is easy to switch once a joint begins getting sore.
Yoga is another low-impact form of physical activity. It focuses on breathing and meditation. Besides improving joint pain, flexibility, and stress levels, yoga also helps regulate chemicals that cause inflammation and stress.
Try deep breathing. The ancient practice of breathing slowly from the belly can decrease stress that may otherwise lead to inflammation. It also keeps the brain from thinking about the pain caused by rheumatoid arthritis.
Meditation and visualization are mental exercises. To meditate, the practitioner focuses on breathing and keeping track of inhalations or exhalations. On the other hand, visualization involves closing the eyes, taking deep breaths, and visualizing a quiet and peaceful place.
In progressive muscle relaxation, a patient seeks to stiffen and relax muscles in various parts of the body. He starts with his facial muscles and works down his body before going back up again. The practitioner breathes in as he contracts a muscle and breathes out when he releases it.
Finally, there are complementary therapies — acupuncture, aromatherapy, and massage therapy — that may increase the effectiveness of other approaches.
Try these various techniques and treatments for naturally supporting your body and relieving pain from rheumatoid arthritis, without the side effects of traditional treatments.