There are many different types of arthritis, but one thing they all have in common is pain.
Pain can affect the joints, cause inflammation, and reduce mobility which can significantly impact our quality of life. In addition, it is often chronic which means it is critical to have tactics you can use to manage it on a daily basis.
Let’s take a look at 11 simple strategies you can try to help with pain relief for your arthritis!
What Does Arthritis Pain Feel Like?
Arthritis pain often feels similar to general pain you might experience from exercise. For example, arthritis can cause pain in the joints and cause you to feel stiff, sore, and achy depending on the type and severity.
With rheumatoid arthritis, pain tends to affect smaller joints, such as the fingers or ankles, on both sides of the body. Psoriatic arthritis tends to cause pain and swelling in the joints of the fingers and toes and can also result in eye pain and lower back pain.
Joint pain from arthritis is often the most intense in the morning and tends to fade with movement. With osteoarthritis, however, pain can occur during activity or at the end of the day as well. This type of arthritis tends to affect joints in the hands, knees, hips, lower back, and neck.
11 Ways to Relieve Arthritis Pain
Finding pain relief from arthritis is not easy and often involves regular changes to your lifestyle. However, when implemented consistently these changes can make a major impact on the pain you or a loved one may be experiencing.
While these recommendations aren’t meant to replace any treatment recommended by your doctor, these strategies can be a valuable addition. In addition, always discuss pain management with your care team before adopting any changes.
Movement is medicine for joints that can help relieve arthritis pain. Gentle stretching, in particular, is an easy way to wake up and wind down your joints in the morning and at night. It’s also essential to stretch before exercising to prevent injury and further joint pain.
One way to incorporate stretching into your routine is through yoga. Research has shown that yoga can increase the range of motion in arthritis patients, decrease joint pain and stiffness, and reduce stress.
2. Build Muscle through Exercise
Exercise is a critical part of preventing arthritis from getting worse, and it can help alleviate pain as well.
Low-impact exercises, such as swimming, walking, cycling, tai-chi, and yoga, are easy on the joints. These exercises will help build muscle, which can reduce stress on joints.
In fact, according to the American College of Rheumatology, people with arthritis who exercise regularly have less pain, more energy, improved sleep, and better day-to-day function.
3. Manage Weight
Weight loss for people who are overweight can also help reduce stress on joints and, thus, reduce pain. Maintaining a healthy weight is possible through exercise and a healthy diet.
As part of a healthy diet, focus on anti-inflammatory foods, such as fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds that are rich in antioxidants, which may help prevent symptoms.
4. Hot and Cold Therapy
Thermotherapy, hot or cold, can help ease arthritis pain.
In a review of the effect of thermotherapy on patients with osteoarthritis knee pain, researchers found that cold packs and ice massage had beneficial effects on range of motion and swelling. Additionally, heat therapy, such as a hot compress or bath, can help relax stiff joints.
Aromatherapy using essential oils can be effective at relieving pain and improving mood in arthritis patients.
In one small study, aromatherapy significantly decreased both the pain score and the depression score in patients with arthritis. In the study, a mix of lavender, marjoram, eucalyptus, rosemary, and peppermint essential oils was used.
Another study found that quality of life and pain severity scores significantly improved in patients with rheumatoid arthritis after 3 weeks of inhaling eucalyptus oil. These benefits may be due to the powerful effect scent has on the brain, influencing the nervous system and emotions.
6. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
Cognitive behavioral therapy is an approach in which patients learn how to modify physical, behavioral, and emotional triggers of pain and stress.
According to the CDC, this form of therapy can help people with arthritis manage their symptoms. If you’re interested in pursuing therapy, talk to your doctor about a referral to a cognitive behavioral therapist.
Acupuncture can stimulate nerves, muscles, and connective tissue, improve blood flow, and activate the body’s natural painkillers. In these ways, it may help reduce pain from arthritis, however, research is limited.
In a review of multiple studies, researchers concluded that acupuncture, along with other therapies, can help improve the quality of life in people with rheumatoid arthritis.
Massage therapy can help ease pain in muscles and joints and promote relaxation.
For some people, the stress response may be the most important as stress can worsen arthritis symptoms. However, research has shown that massage therapy does offer short-term pain relief for patients with osteoarthritis as well and may be more beneficial when combined with aromatherapy.
For these reasons, it may benefit you to add a regular massage to your routine.
9. Topical Treatments
Topical treatments, such as soothing creams, can help ease pain from arthritis. Some examples include topical lidocaine and topical diclofenac.
These medications can improve pain intensity, physical function, and stiffness but have potential side effects. Talk to your doctor about which one may be right for you.
Your care provider may also suggest over-the-counter creams, such as topical NSAIDs and CBD creams.
10. Reduce Inflammation
Arthritis is an inflammatory disorder, so reducing inflammation may help decrease pain. Some ways to reduce inflammation in the body include managing stress, getting ample sleep, and exercising regularly.
You can also help reduce inflammation through diet by limiting sugar and processed foods, increasing your intake of antioxidants, and taking anti-inflammatory supplements, such as turmeric.
11. Pain Medications
Many people with arthritis will take medication for arthritis pain at some point. While there are many arthritis medication options to treat acute pain, such as NSAIDs and corticosteroids, their side effects can make them inappropriate for long-term use.
Discuss the available options with your doctor to develop a treatment plan that addresses your pain both now and in the future.
What To Take for Arthritis Pain
There are many medications your doctor may recommend taking for arthritis pain. During flare-ups of joint pain, over-the-counter NSAIDs, such as ibuprofen and naproxen, can help ease joint pain.
However, be sure to discuss the use of any new medication with your doctor first, and do not start any new medication without talking with a qualified healthcare professional.
Medications work differently and affect people uniquely. So, if one doesn’t work for you, another might. If these OTC medications don’t offer you pain relief, your doctor can prescribe another option.
What is the best prescription medicine for arthritis pain?
Prescription medications to manage arthritis pain do exist in both oral and topical forms. Common options for long-term pain management with proven evidence for relieving pain. include tramadol and paracetamol.
Talk with your doctor and they will be able to provide you with options for the best medication for you to manage arthritis pain.
In addition, common causes of joint pain aside from arthritis that may be the culprit.