Arthritis is a term that is used widely to describe a lot of conditions that affect the musculoskeletal system. There are different types of arthritis: osteo-arthritis, which is caused by wear and tear on the joints and rheumatoid arthritis, which is an autoimmune disease where the immune system attacks the body’s joints.
The most common type is the osteo-arthritis and symptoms can include pain, swelling in the joints and stiffness effecting the range of movement in the joints. These symptoms can also be the same if you suffer from rheumatoid arthritis so it can get confusing. Other symptoms that you may suffer as a result of the first set named above can be loss of sleep, weight gain and even gastro-intestinal problems often due to the drugs that you may be taking to treat the arthritis symptoms. Some things that you can do to help relieve some of the pain, swelling and stiffness naturally will also help relieve those secondary symptoms.
You need to remember that diet has an important impact on your health. Weight gain can be a side effect of arthritis as pain can hinder your activity levels, which is why it is important to try and stay active. Eating lots of fruit and vegetables and limiting meats, grains and dairy can help. Sensitivities to foods can play a big part in arthritis so keep be aware of what your allergies are and what sensitivities can cause inflammation in your body. Obviously if you have a flare up in your arthritis not too long after certain foods you need to eliminate those foods.
Exercise will help lessen your weight gain and will increase circulation and flexibility in the muscles which strengthens them. The type of exercise though is important as running around and lifting weights will only serve to increase your pain. Exercise needs to be gentle to moderate such as tai chi, water exercises such as hydrotherapy, aerobics or swimming. A heated pool will comfort the joints. Walking is also good especially short walks throughout the day at times suited to you. Yoga is also great for joint mobility but make sure you check in with a trained teacher especially if your condition is severe.
Massage can be a great way to help the pain and swelling. Try some aromatherapy oils to help with the pain. Some good suggestions are 2 drops each of ginger, juniper and black pepper added to 10mls carrier oil such as grape seed or jojoba. Massage gently around sore joints to ease stiffness and inflammation. Alternatively you can use 2 drops each of lavender, rosemary and chamomile added to 10mls of a carrier oil and massaged into the painful area to ease the pain. Also, a nice warm bath with Epsom salts, plain salt and/or essential oils will be comforting and help to induce sleep.
There is also a range of herbs and spices that can help treat arthritis. Some of these are Ginger Root, Turmeric and Boswellia. Talk to your naturopath about what natural treatments would suit you. Don’t just self-medicate via Google or the local health food store. Natural health care is not just about buying a bottle of supplements off a shelf. It takes years of study to get it right.