In most cases, getting older simply means becoming wiser, happier and more confident in your own skin. But like anything in life – there are inevitable downsides. Arthritis is one of the most common conditions that develops through ageing and is known to not only impact mobility but also the overall quality of life.
This August, the Australian Institute of Health and Wellbeing announced that one in seven Australians have some form of arthritis and one in five Australians with arthritis have experienced high or very high levels of psychological distress. It’s a painful and inescapable part of life for those who have it and finding the right treatment to suit each individual can be a struggle.
Brendan Howell, Director of Arborvitae Health and Wellbeing, said that with so many suffering from arthritis every day, a greater focus has been placed on finding natural alternatives to help reduce or manage their symptoms.
“While medications are important, lifestyle, diet and supplements are also key to helping people to reduce the pain and discomfort,” Howell said. “There are a number of natural supplements which are known to assist in reducing inflammation in the body. Many studies have shown improvement in arthritis symptoms among people who have added these supplements to their daily dietary regime.”
Treatment doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg. Natural supplements, low-cost exercises and daily activities targeted to problem areas can also reduce arthritis pain without breaking the bank. Whether you use just one or a mixture of the methods – it might be wise to test a few, as pain management varies from person to person.
Supplements are usually the best place to begin when looking into natural remedies and Pycnogenol is one of the best. The powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory is fairly new to the Australian market but has been used overseas for a while now thanks to its success in preventing and treating a wide range of chronic inflammatory conditions like arthritis.
This is definitely one of the more well-known solutions to arthritis pain due to the omega-3 fatty acids that help to reduce inflammation. It’s often derived from oily fish such as herring, tuna, anchovies and mackerel, however it can also be taken from the liver of other fish such as cod.
Curcumin is the key active ingredient in turmeric and has long been used as a form of traditional healing in Ayurvedic medicine. It is thought to have antioxidant properties which may decrease swelling and inflammation, meanwhile turmeric as a whole has also been used to treat skin conditions, digestive issues, aches and pains.
Glucosamine is a major component of joint cartilage, and supplements can be derived from the shells of shellfish such as shrimp, lobster and crab or even from vegetable sources. It can help to do many things including slowing the deterioration of cartilage by helping to retain water, improving mobility by lubricating joints and relieving arthritis pain.
This well-known anti-inflammatory and anti-arthritic nutrient helps to mitigate pain and protect bone health. The body requires magnesium to maintain healthy muscle and nerve function, blood sugar levels and blood pressure as well as produce protein, bone and DNA, so supplementing extra into your diet is only doing your body a favour.
This dietary supplement is a vital part of cartilage. Not only could it prevent cartilage from breaking down by retaining water and blocking enzymes, but it is also thought to enhance the shock-absorbing properties of collagen.
Figuring out how to treat varying levels of pain throughout the day could be the solution to managing arthritis symptoms and hot and cold therapy is one of the best ways to approach the issue. Heat helps to sooth stiff joints and aching muscles, while cold therapy restricts blood vessels and reduces swelling.
Heat treatment can include kicking off the day with a warm bath or shower, placing heat pads on aching joints and using an electric blanket as you go to sleep. Meanwhile, cold therapy should only be done in 20 minute intervals but can include applying cold packs to affected areas or placing joints in ice water.
The relationship between exercise and arthritis is a bit of a catch-22 situation as losing weight is one of the best ways to alleviate pain, but most forms of cardio are often painful on joints and only worsen symptoms. Aquatic exercises however, are a great, low-impact way of staying active while also relieving pressure through the buoyancy of being in water.
However, a report from 2015 noted that while short-term relief is almost guaranteed from aquatic exercise, for ongoing relief, 40–60 minutes of aquatic exercise should be performed at least three times a week.
Like water exercise, yoga and tai chi are also easy and less painful ways of improving range of motion and balance without putting too much strain on problem areas. With a consistent routine of low-impact exercises, people also begin to improve mentally as they are able to see themselves becoming more physically capable.
Mindfulness is a day-to-day habit that may work in getting your mind off the pain of arthritis. A study from 2014 tested the relationship between mindfulness-based stress reduction and rheumatoid arthritis and saw that participants felt reduced symptoms immediately or shortly afterwards due to the increased levels of meditation.
Some researchers have also found a link between relaxation techniques and a reduction in stress, which in turn also reduces inflammation and arthritis-based joint pain. It also helps to improve mood and becomes a fantastic coping mechanism when dealing with overwhelming pain.
Important information: The information provided on this website is of a general nature and information purposes only. It does not take into account your personal health requirements or existing medical conditions. It is not personalised health advice and must not be relied upon as such. Before making any decisions about your health or changes to medication, diet and exercise routines you should determine whether the information is appropriate in terms of your particular circumstances and seek advice from a medical professional.