September is National Arthritis Awareness Month. The Arthritis Foundation will spend this month drawing attention to arthritis to help the more than 50 million Americans who live with the condition, including many well-known names, such as actors Kathleen Turner and David Prowse (Darth Vader in the original Star Wars trilogy) and more.
The Arthritis Foundation will hold events throughout September to raise awareness surrounding the disease that affects the joints, leading to swelling and pain. Arthritis can affect everyone, regardless of age and walk of life. In fact, more than two-thirds of the people suffering from arthritis are under the age of 65. (Sex does seem to play a role, though, with 2.5-times more women having rheumatoid arthritis than men.) The disease causes work limitations for 40% of the people in the U.S. who live with the disease. Overall, arthritis significantly limits the activities and quality of life of 21 million Americans—that’s 9.4% of America’s total adult population and 42.4% of patients with arthritis.
So in support of the Arthritis Foundation’s efforts and National Arthritis Awareness Month, I’d like to share with my readers a variety of natural pain relief methods that can be used to alleviate the pain and discomfort of arthritis:
Losing weight: Excess weight causes strain on your joints and can increase the pain that arthritis causes. Dropping excess pounds may help to alleviate that pain and prevent future damage that arthritis may cause.
Exercise: In addition to helping you to lose weight, exercise also helps to keep joints flexible. However, exercises like lifting weights or running can cause damage to joints. For natural pain relief and to keep your joints flexible, try taking up water aerobics; this is one of the best exercises for people suffering from arthritis as it puts very little strain on the joints.
Hot and cold therapy: Taking a long, hot shower or bath in the morning can help to ease stiffness in your joints. At night, an electric blanket or heating pad can help to keep your joints loose and limber. On the flipside, a gel ice pack or bag of frozen vegetables applied to joints where you’re experiencing pain can relieve discomfort.
Acupuncture: The ancient Chinese method of inserting needles into specific parts of the body has been found to be beneficial to those suffering from arthritis. However, you should always check to make sure that you find an experienced acupuncturist; ask your friends or family members if they have any recommendations.
Fish oil supplements: Omega-3 fatty acids help to relieve joint stiffness and pain, so adding fish oil supplements to your daily routine may help. Gamma-linolenic acid (GLA) supplements can also help, as can eating black currants, a good source of GLA.
Spices: If you suffer from arthritis, there are a variety of spices that you can add to your diet that will help to relieve pain and inflammation, such as turmeric. Turmeric is a spice that contains a chemical called curcumin, which has been found to have anti-inflammatory properties, plus it gives meals a tasty boost!
Massage therapy: Finally, massage therapy has been found to be highly beneficial for people suffering from arthritis. Regular massage therapy can reduce pain and swelling, as well as improve mobility. Often, you can find massage therapists who specialize in clients with arthritis. Again, ask around for recommendations or talk to your doctor to see if they know of a good massage therapist in the area.