Arthritis is a fact of life for almost one in four people, and the government expects the percentage to increase significantly by 2040. On their good days, most arthritis sufferers must plan their activities around their pain; on their bad days, the discomfort is almost completely debilitating.
Fortunately, there are a number of ways to incorporate simple lifestyle changes that make a big difference in arthritis pain levels. It’s important to remember that while the following suggestions are evidenced-based, they do not necessarily work equally well for everyone. And if you are one of the few people who suffer from occasional flare-ups as opposed to chronic pain, these suggestions may not be the perfect solution.
Carrying around excess weight strains joints that are already not working properly, but there may be an even stronger connection between weight and inflammation. Researchers now believe that fat cells may secrete a number of harmful substances, such as:
- Resistin, and
Among other things, these substances may erode cartilage.
The effects are obvious, especially when it comes to the causes and treatments for arthritic hands. Many people have arthritic hands, but there is little or no extra fat in this area, even among people who are quite obese. Based on the evidence and these observations, some doctors believe that there may almost be a one-to-one relationship between excess weight and joint inflammation.
The good news is that a slight change often makes a big difference. Losing just three pounds a month adds up to nearly forty pounds in a year.
Weight loss is usually a function of diet and exercise. The exercise itself may alleviate arthritis pain, as outlined below. As for the dietary changes, consider some or all of the following:
- Lean Fish: Salmon and other wild-caught fish are very high in anti-inflammatory Omega-3s. Some other good choices in this category include flax seeds, walnuts, and chia seeds.
- Sulfur: Many vegetables, including garlic, asparagus, onions, and cabbage, have high sulfur contents. This mineral contains methylsulfonylmethane. MSM is both an anti-inflammatory and a joint rebuilder.
- Bone Broth: Among its other benefits, the collagen in bone broth helps rebuild some connective tissues. This substance also contains glucosamine, a powerful antioxidant.
The latest research also includes a few foods to avoid. Sugar, refined grains (white flour, white bread, etc.), and hydrogenated oils all may cause additional inflammation.
It’s usually best to get antioxidants, Omega-3, and other such nutrients from food. The body absorbs food-based nutrients better, and the fish, nuts, vegetables, and so on are very consistent with a weight loss diet.
Some other anti-inflammatory ingredients, however, are better in dietary supplements. These things include:
- Proteolytic Enzymes: These digestive aids also have substantial anti-inflammatory properties, so people who take them get a double benefit. Tropical fruits are usually rich in proteolytic enzymes. As for supplements, most people get the best results if they take about 2,000 milligrams three times a day.
- Ginger: This spice is both an anti-inflammatory and an analgesic pain reliever. Ginger also reduces the production of some harmful enzymes in the body.
- Turmeric: This spice is one of the most well-researched alternative arthritis therapies. In one study, turmeric was almost as effective as conventional arthritis pain relief drugs, and there were practically no side effects.
Dietary supplements are not usually very fast-acting, so be very patient when you try them.
It may seem counterintuitive, but moving stiff joints greatly reduces inflammation and helps restore range of motion. Many people see benefits after just thirty minutes a day of walking.
Other forms of movement are even better, especially tai chi and yoga. The slow, controlled movements do wonders for joints. Moreover, both these forms of exercise have a strong meditative element, and if they stop thinking about arthritis pain for a little while, most people feel better for at least several hours.
A few simple lifestyle changes can significantly reduce your dependence on pain pills, so try one today and see what happens.