Osteoarthritis symptoms have a big impact on the lives of millions of Australians.
Osteoarthritis is an inflammatory condition caused when the protective cartilage that cushions movement in our joints is worn away through life-long wear and tear. Without cartilage, bone rubs against bone when the joint moves. It’s as painful as is sounds.
There is no cure for osteoarthritis, as cartilage cannot regenerate. Yet there are natural remedies to reduce cartilage damage and manage the painful symptoms and inflammation of osteoarthritis – without resorting to painkillers like codeine.
Managing Osteoarthritis Pain
Many people assume that exercise would make the pain in arthritic joints worst – but actually, it’s the exact opposite. Gentle exercise such as walking, swimming, or pedalling a bike is one of the simplest ways to maintain joint health. In addition to aerobic exercise, you should also include strengthening isometric exercise such as Pilates to increase muscle strength. Stronger muscles help to improve posture and the body’s alignment, which helps reduce joint load and pain. Toned muscles also provide better support and protection to the joints and help prevent falls.
The Get Healthy Service is a free telephone health coaching service for people in NSW, Queensland, ACT, and SA. Staffed by trained health coaches, they will help you achieve your exercise goals.
2. Weight loss
It’s the simplest way to reduce arthritis pain, yet losing weight is far from easy. But consider this: if you’re overweight or obese every additional kilo is putting an extra burden on weight-bearing joints, such as the back, hips, knees, ankles and feet. Any extra body weight is making the symptoms of osteoarthritis in these joints much worse.
Even shedding a few kilos will make a big difference in your symptoms. You should speak to your doctor about the best combination of eating and exercise to reduce weight
To learn more about your ideal weight and how to achieve it visit the Australian Government Healthy Active website.
3. Low Level Laser Therapy Devices
Many people with stiff and inflamed joints apply heat and cold packs to treat the inflammation and reduce the pain.
An alternative to heat and cold is light. Low level laser therapy (LLLT) has been shown through many studies to have beneficial effects for osteoarthritis symptoms. Because it does not produce heat or cold, low level laser therapy is better tolerated when held against the skin for several minutes. An LLLT device works by delivering a low-intensity beam of laser light directly onto the skin above the inflamed joint. This concentrated beam of light boosts the body’s natural anti-inflammatory healing process at the cellular level. It helps to temporarily reduce pain and inflammation caused by osteoarthritis.
Low level laser therapy also eases muscle spasms that are associated with osteoarthritis, which aren’t only painful but can interfere with sleep.
Consult your doctor to find out if Low Level Laser Therapy will benefit you. These low level laser devices are available for home use from here.
4. Complementary treatments
There is a range of complementary therapies and treatment that are beneficial for someone with osteoarthritis. Physiotherapy can improve muscle strength which may help you move more freely or get in and out of a chair more easily. A physiotherapist can advise you how to strap ankles, wrists or knees to reduce joint pain and further damage from incorrect movement.
Acupuncture is also beneficial for many osteoarthritis sufferers. The therapist uses needles, magnets or laser acupuncture on acupuncture points that interrupt pain signals travelling to the central nervous system.
To find a physiotherapist near you visit: www.physiotherapy.asn.au
5. Omega-3 fatty acids
Omega-3 is helpful in maintaining heart health and beneficial for inflammatory forms of arthritis.
Although the benefit of fish oils for OA has not yet been thoroughly proven by research, Omega-3 is believed to relieve joint pain and stiffness in a similar way to non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).
Omega-3 fatty acids are found naturally in oily fish, such as mackerel, sardines, pilchards and salmon, so it is a good idea to eat oily fish three or four times a week. They can also be found in lesser amounts in flaxseeds and flaxseed oil, walnuts and canola oil.
If you don’t eat oily fish this frequently, a fish oil supplement may be useful. Most chemists and health food shops sell fish oil capsules and liquids that contain high concentrations of omega-3 fatty acids.
6. Complementary medicines
Many people with joint pain or osteoarthritis (OA) add complementary medicines into their treatment plan. The main complementary medicines used for joint pain are glucosamine, chondroitin and vitamins C, E and D.
Glucosamine occurs naturally in the body and is a part of a protein that gives cartilage its elasticity (flexibility).
Vitamins are naturally occurring substances that are important in preventing disease and maintaining health. The best way to get the full range of vitamins is by having a well-balanced diet. However, vitamins can be taken as commercial preparations, either as single vitamins or in combination as multivitamins.
As to the usefulness of complementary medicines, scientific research often cannot provide a definite answer. For many supplements, there has been little quality research into their use for OA or joint pain. You should consult your doctor before taking any complementary medicines to ensure they are right for you.