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25 Ways to Stop Arthritis Pain

Arthritis is a painful and often debilitating disease involving joint tissues. The medical community is filled with clinically proven ways to stop or prevent arthritis naturally. In addition, alternative and complementary healthcare provides relief from arthritis pain and suffering.
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Arthritis is a painful, debilitating, and potentially disfiguring disease of the joints which affect over fifty million adults in the United States.

Arthritis is the number one form of disability in America today, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The Mayo Clinic states that osteoarthritis arises when two bones do not have enough cartilage “padding” between them and eventually wear down.

The joints stiffen and sometimes become red and swollen. 

Injury, infection, and aging are the three most common causes of osteoarthritis.

Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disorder. With rheumatoid arthritis, the immune system attacks the thin, lubricating membrane in the joints and can even destroy cartilage and bones. Besides osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis, there are many other forms of joint disease.

Fairly common ones include lupus, fibromyalgia, and gout.

 

Is arthritis the same thing as degenerative joint disease?

Degenerative joint disease is the same thing as osteoarthritis. A.D.A.M. Medical Encyclopedia says that osteoarthritis, or degenerative joint disease, is caused by aging or “wear and tear” on the joints. Osteoarthritis is sometimes called degenerative joint disease because the soft, cushion-like cartilage found between all bones at the joints breaks down and wears away. This is called degeneration of the joints, and is why arthritic joints hurt so much.

The bones in the joints affected by arthritis touch each other unprotected, slowly and painfully rubbing and grinding the bones away. The joints hurt with sometimes excruciating pain, becoming stiff, swollen, and inflamed. The muscles and ligaments surrounding the joints become weaker, increasing the risk for falls and fractures. Sometimes the joints make a creaking or grinding sound. They can be very tender to the touch, have a limited range of motion, and make even simple tasks extremely difficult to perform.

Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disorder. With rheumatoid arthritis, the immune system attacks the joints, eating away the synovium- a lining surrounding the joint capsule which lubricates the joints.

 

Where does arthritis occur?

Arthritis can occur in any joint in the human body.

Common places for arthritis to occur are in the knuckles of the hands, the elbows, shoulders, and knees. Knee arthritis is particularly common.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 45% of adults in the U.S. experience achy knees, swelling in the knee, or knee pain when running or walking. People who have had a knee injury are 57% more likely to have some form of knee arthritis. The risk of arthritis in the knees, knee swelling, or having achy knees goes up to 60%, or almost two-thirds for obese people.

Another common place to experience arthritis is in the acromioclavicular (AC) joint. AC joint arthritis is found in the shoulder between the collarbone (clavicle) where it touches the top of the shoulder blade.

The AC joint allows the arms to raise above the head and all around the body. Similar to arthritis in other parts of the body, AC joint arthritis is usually caused by occupational wear and tear, aging, or cartilage degeneration after an injury.

Pain in the shoulders while trying to comb hair, reach for the back pocket, or during any athletic activity may be due to AC joint arthritis.

 

The number one way to stop or prevent arthritis is with diet

While the medical community is hesitant to state that arthritis can be “cured” or “healed,” there is a common thread in the medical literature about arthritis prevention. Most clinical scientists seem to agree that the biggest factor in stopping or preventing arthritis is diet.

Orthopedic doctors at the University of Washington give fairly clear instructions on the diet patients with arthritis should eat. There should be a balanced, healthy diet consisting of lean protein choices, healthy fats, and nutrient-rich carbohydrates. People who want to prevent or stop arthritis should remove the following unhealthy foods from their diet:

  • Soybean oil, corn oil, “vegetable” oil, canola oil, peanut oil, cottonseed oil, and any product that has been “hydrogenated”
  • All margarine, shortening, and any “butter-like” product
  • All packaged and processed foods that contain either refined oils, margarine, shortening, or hydrogenated products
  • All fried food
  • All fast food (with very few exceptions)
  • All white sugar and foods containing sugar
  • All artificial sweeteners and foods containing artificial sweeteners
  • All refined white salt, and all foods or products containing refined salt
  • All white flour products, such as white bread, pastries, cookies, cakes, and doughnuts
  • Alcoholic beverages, except the occasional glass of wine
  • Wheat products trigger certain types of arthritis and should be avoided
  • Traditional herbalists believe eggs may contribute to arthritis and should be avoided

People who want to stop or prevent arthritis should include a healthy balance of the following nutrient-dense, joint-healing foods to their diet:

  • Healthy fats such as coconut oil, extra virgin olive oil, raw nuts and nut butters, raw seeds, avocados, and moderate amounts of animal fat
  • Lean protein such as chicken breasts, lean cuts of beef, fish, turkey, and dried beans
  • Copious amounts of fresh or lightly cooked vegetables, especially dark green leafy vegetables
  • Moderate amounts of fresh fruit
  • Experiment with small portions of these healthy carbohydrates: sweet potatoes, red potatoes, brown rice, oatmeal, and quinoa
 

Do supplements help with joint disease and arthritis?

Physicians usually recommend over-the-counter pain relievers for mild arthritis pain. For more painful forms of arthritis, prescription pharmaceutical drugs, steroids, and even surgery are often prescribed.

However, within the alternative and complementary healthcare community, glucosamine and chondroitin have gotten a lot of positive press. So many people have stated they found relief from glucosamine and chondroitin for arthritis that the National Institute of Health funded a major clinical study to find out if the supplements really do make a significant difference in arthritis pain management.

In February 1998, Alternative Medicine Review published a clinical study which stated that glucosamine and chondroitin provided the chemicals to support a healthy joint matrix.

The British Medical Journal gave the two supplements mixed reviews in 2001. In 2008, a $12.5 million clinical trial called the Glucosamine/Chondroitin Arthritis Intervention Trial (GAIT) compared glucosamine, chondroitin, and the most often prescribed pharmaceutical drug for arthritis pain to a placebo. GAIT scientists wanted to determine the effect of glucosamine and chondroitin alone or together on knee pain due to arthritis. The study was conducted over a six month period. For participants who had mild arthritis pain, glucosamine and chondroitin made little to no difference. However, for participants with medium to severe pain in their knees, the two supplements made a significant difference. Because of these surprising results, the GAIT study was declared “preliminary.”

A 1994 study published in Environmental Health Perspectives stated that boron was “essential” for healthy bones and joints. Taking a mere 6 mg boron daily showed improvement in 50% of participants in the study. There was only a 10% improvement in the participants taking a placebo.

The Osteoarthritis Society's publication, Osteoarthritis and Cartilage, published a 2008 study on the effectiveness of methylsulfonylmethane (MSM) in arthritic knees. Fifty middle-aged adults with osteoarthritis in their knees were given 3g MSM or a placebo twice a day for twelve weeks. Patients taking MSM had a significant reduction in pain and had much greater physical ability as compared to the patients taking the placebo.

 

Several foods and herbs show promise to stop or prevent arthritis

Green tea has been clinically proven to protect the joints from auto-immune (rheumatoid) arthritis due to its anti-inflammatory polyphenolic compounds. The Journal of Nutrition published a 2008 study in which rats drank green tea for one to three weeks, then injected with a formula designed to create rheumatoid arthritis. Scientists noted a significant reduction in arthritis symptoms in the green tea-fed rats after nine days, in comparison to rats who simply drank water.

Ginger extract is also effective against the painful symptoms of osteoarthritis. In 2001, Arthritis and Rheumatism reported that ginger extract helped to reduce knee pain while standing in over 160 patients with moderate to severe arthritis. Some patients did report some gastrointestinal issues while taking ginger. This is understandable, since ginger is spicy and is a well-known herb for digestion.

Proven even more effective than ginger is turmeric. In a 2011 study published in Inflammation, arthritis-induced rats were given either turmeric or ginger extract to compare results. At 200mg per kilogram of body weight, both herbs worked, but in different degrees. Turmeric worked better to reduce rheumatoid arthritis symptoms than either ginger or a commonly prescribed anti-inflammatory drug.

Dr. John Ray Christopher, a famous twentieth century master herbalist, recommended the following nutrient-rich foods to help stop arthritis:

  • Cayenne
  • Apple cider vinegar
  • Wheat germ oil
  • Blackstrap molasses
  • Drinking one gallon of water daily
  • Fresh juice made from celery, cucumbers, apples, and carrots
 

Traditional and alternative healthcare offer more ways to stop arthritis

Dr. Christopher created an herbal formula specifically for arthritis and rheumatoid arthritis, a different formula targeting bones, muscles, and cartilage, as well as his own herbal deep heating ointment. In addition, he recommended the following for all of his arthritis patients:

  • Enemas to clean the colon of old waste matter
  • Steaming hot baths daily to sweat toxins out of the skin
  • Wrapping poultices around stiff joints with an herbal blend of cayenne powder (capsicum), slippery elm, mullein, and lobelia
  • Soaking a bath towel in hot apple cider vinegar and wrapping it around painful joints

A.D.A.M. Medical Encyclopedia suggests both physical and massage therapy to help stop arthritis. Other suggestions include applying hot and cold packs alternatively, swimming as a form of exercise, losing weight, and Chinese acupuncture.

Boswellia serrata extract has been proven to reduce pain and inflammation in arthritis in the knees, according to a 2003 clinical study published in Phytomedicine. After taking boswellia serrata extract for eight weeks, all of the patients reported a decrease in pain, an increase in flexibility, and an increase in walking distance.

Supplementing Vitamin D may prevent or stop cartilage loss in osteoarthritis, according to several studies reported by the American College of Rheumatology.

There is a strong association between a lack of Vitamin D and arthritis. Supplementation of Vitamin D has been clinically proven to effect positive changes in knee cartilage volume. In addition, women with arthritis who supplemented with Vitamin D experienced a reduction in pain.

Vitamin D is best obtained from sun exposure.

Sources


Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.gov, “Arthritis: The Nation’s Most Common Cause of Disability” - http://www.cdc.gov/chronicdisease/resources/publications/AAG/arthritis.htm

Mayo Clinic.com, “Arthritis” - http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/arthritis/DS01122

Pubmed.gov, “Osteoarthritis” - http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0001460/

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