If you are one of the 40 million people in the U.S. dealing with arthritis, you know that when left unmanaged, chronic pain associated with arthritis can affect your ability to do what you love.
Arthritis simply means joint inflammation, but the word has become a blanket term for arthritis itself and more than 100 rheumatic diseases and conditions that affect joints, the tissues surrounding joints and your connective tissue.
The good news is that because so many Americans are dealing with arthritis and chronic pain, there are numerous solutions, from changes in diet to TENS units, to help you live each day with less pain. Here are some ways to handle arthritis pain.
Adopt an Anti-Inflammatory Diet
Do you know that what you eat can impact your arthritis pain? The Arthritis Foundation recommends the following foods to help you reduce inflammation and combat pain:
Some types of fish are good sources of inflammation-fighting omega-3 fatty acids, and consuming these fatty acids have been found to lower the presence of two inflammatory proteins: C-reactive protein (CRP) and interleukin-6.
If you’re not a fan of fish or you’re a vegetarian, try these other foods with high omega-3 fatty acid content:
- Flaxseed oil and flaxseed—Avoid cooking the oil itself. Instead, add the oil to smoothies, salad dressing or soup. Use flaxseed meal in bread, cake, muffin, pancakes, meatloaf or cookie recipes to get the omegas and an added boost of fiber.
- Chia seeds—Add chia seeds to oatmeal, smoothies or yogurt. You can also use chia seeds to make pudding.
- Fresh Basil—Add basil to salads or pasta dishes.
- Cloves—Cloves can add flavor to rice, beets and even cookies. Check out these different ways to cook with cloves.
- Spinach—Add spinach to salads, juices, smoothies, pasta dishes and stir-fries.
Nuts and Seeds
These little foods pack a powerful punch to help beat arthritis and chronic pain. According to the National Arthritis Foundation, a study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that over a 15-year period, men and women who consumed the most nuts had a 51 percent lower risk of dying from an inflammatory disease (like Rheumatoid Arthritis).
The best nuts for arthritis pain are: walnuts, pine nuts, pistachios and almonds. Eat them alone (if you are buying roasted nuts, be mindful of added salts or sugars in honey-roasted varieties), or add them to salads or pasta and rice dishes.
Beans are loaded with fiber, which helps to lower CRP, an indicator of inflammation found in the blood. Eat beans alone or add them to salads, soups and stir-fries.
Get Some Exercise
Inactivity can lower your ability to handle pain, weaken your muscles, stiffen your joints and cause balance problems. So, if you are dealing with arthritis pain, exercise can help—but talk to your doctor before starting a new activity.
Choose a no-impact workout and avoid an exercise like running, where your joints are absorbing a lot of shock. Some great activities for people with arthritis include, walking, swimming, water aerobics, biking, yoga or Pilates.
In all cases, seek out a trainer or class instructor who understands arthritis pain and can help you stay safe while getting the most benefits.
Try Alternative Therapies
More and more people are turning to NON-DRUG therapies for everything from sleep issues and headaches to arthritis. Here are a few that you might want to try:
Acupuncture: This ancient Chinese practice has been gaining global followers. In an acupuncture session, the practitioner places thin needles (about the width of a piece of hair) to target pain. Acupuncture helps to treat chronic pain by regulating the nervous system and stimulating the release of pain-fighting endorphins.
Massage: A massage can be a treat for your entire body, and when you work with a therapist to target your pain points, it can help you feel better even when you’re not in the middle of a treatment.
Electrical Stimulation: TENS Units, or transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation therapy, is a drug-free way to control pain. Here’s how it works. A TENS unit, like Omron’s Electrotherapy Pain Relief Pro devices, produces millions of tiny electrical impulses which block pain messages from being sent to your brain, increase endorphins and boost blood circulation.
No matter what combination of therapies, dietary changes and exercises you use to manage your arthritis pain, knowing that there are a variety of treatments available that can help can empower you to try new approaches until you find the best one for you.