Joint pain can be a serious issue, and some surveys (1) suggest that it could be affecting up to one-third of the population at any given time. If you are one of millions of people living with daily discomfort and pain in your joints you should know that there are several natural remedies that have been shown to help patients living with symptoms ranging from occasional stiffness to more serious issues that make it difficult to deal with daily life.
Even over the counter painkillers such as paracetamol, aspirin and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen can have damaging effects (2) on your body if taken too regularly or for too long, including liver and kidney problems and ulcers. They can also interfere with other medications such as antidepressants and blood thinners. Needless to say, relying on over the counter or doctor recommended medication is not ideal, and because they don’t help your body deal with the cause of the problem, they are at best just masking the painful symptoms while not actually helping to rectify the issues in your body.
The most common areas for this kind of pain are weight-bearing joints that get a lot of repetitive use like the lower back, knees, hips, neck and shoulders. If you are one of millions of sufferers, whether you’re dealing with degenerative issues like arthritis, or simple everyday aches and pains, you could benefit from natural treatments.lasting relief.
We’ve put together a simple, effective 4 step plan to help you understand and ease joint pain the natural way.
How do Joints Work?
In order to understand how to protect and sustain your joints, it’s helpful to know how they work and what causes them to hurt when they’re not functioning properly. A joint is the part of your body where two bones meet, and in order to stop them rubbing together, the space between them is full of connective tissue (cartilage) and a soft tissue called synovium along with a lubricant.
Common Joint Problems
There are dozens of different conditions that may cause joint pain, however the most common of these is arthritis. As we age, the wear and tear of years of use cause natural damage to the cartilage which can lead to sore joints that are not properly protected by the body. Injuries like muscle damage and broken bones can also cause joint problems, bad posture can put stress on delicate joints and a sedentary lifestyle or weight gain may also create issues.
If your joint pain is severe, it could feel as though your muscles or the actual bones themselves are hurting, while it’s more likely that the pain is originating in the inflamed joints themselves, severe conditions like osteoporosis do cause bones to become weak and can lead to painful fractures, affecting posture and making everyday movements very hard.
Common problem areas include the neck and shoulders which often store a lot of stress and tension, and runners and other athletes can be particularly susceptible to issues surrounding the knees, ankles, and feet caused by injury or poor form. We also see a lot of problems with weight-bearing joints like the hips and lower back, and the complex clusters of joints in the hands, wrists and fingers. Some people also experience problems in the jaw with conditions like TMJ.
Depending on how severe the joint pain is, your doctor could recommend over the counter medications such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), or other pain-killers like aspirin or ibuprofen. If the pain is particularly difficult to live with, you may receive a doctor's note for a painkiller to help manage your symptoms. Because some of these can cause serious side effects, even with short-term use for some people, most doctors will use these as a last resort or as a temporary solution as part of a longer treatment plan.
A longer treatment plan could include adding exercise to your daily routine if you lead a particularly sedentary lifestyle, or resting and altering your current fitness routine if you are very active. They may also recommend physical therapy or in some cases a change in diet geared towards weight loss if extra weight is putting stress on your joints.
If you are experiencing severe pain in your joints it’s always a good idea to see your family doctor, but whether or not you have a medical diagnosis there are several practical things you can do to support joint health.
Step 1 - Change Your Diet Change Your Life
We all know that a healthy diet plays a huge role in our overall feeling of well being, but did you know that the food you eat directly impacts your joints? An anti-inflammatory diet can go a long way to soothing inflamed joints and muscles and it could promote bone health as well!
Fatty Fish Like Tuna, Mackerel and Salmon
Despite the popular misconception, not all fats are bad for you. Fish are a great source of Omega-3 fatty acids which work to reduce inflammation in muscles and cartilage. These essential fats are heart healthy as well. You can also find Omega-3s in foods like flaxseed, walnuts, and eggs.
Green Leafy Vegetables
The potassium found in green leafy vegetables like spinach and kale can help to reduce inflammation and keep your muscles and nerves functioning at their best. You can also look for bananas, prunes, dates and sweet potatoes which are all great sources of this important mineral.
Fruits, Vegetables and Whole Grains
Remember what your mother told you and be sure to eat lots of fresh fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Not only will a high fiber diet help you maintain a healthy weight, reducing stress on tired joints, but it will keep you regular, and believe it or not, constipation can irritate back pain.
Foods to Avoid
Stay away from added sugars, processed foods and trans fats (often found in baked goods) which all cause inflammation, contributing to the underlying reasons for a lot of joint pain and surrounding issues.
Step 2 - Appropriate Weight Loss
If you’re carrying some extra weight, your joints will thank you for dropping a few pounds. The heavier you are, the harder weight-bearing joints like your knees, hips and lower back all have to work to keep you moving. It stands to reason that lightening their load could help those suffering from joint pain. Not only can it help the pain you might be feeling at the moment, but shedding weight could help you avoid developing more severe problems in the future.
You don’t have to move mountains either. Most experts agree that losing between 5-10 percent of your body weight could have a huge impact on painful symptoms. You can also set yourself up for success by joining an online weight loss community. According to a recent study (3) from the University of California, Irvine, “Sharing the triumphs and tribulations of your weight loss journey...plays an important role in achieving success.”
Step 3 - Move More
If you are one of the estimated 25-35% (4) of people leading a sedentary lifestyle, you and your joints could benefit from more exercise. Our bodies are made to move, and lack of exercise can cause postural problems and create tension in some areas, creating added stress on joints and bones. Regular exercise stretches joints and muscles, increases circulation and it can also reduce pain. Joints are also surrounded by muscle, so if you can create a firm foundation by strengthening your joints support system, you may be able to avoid joint injuries before they happen.
If you are experiencing joint pain it’s very important that you chose the right, low impact exercises that don’t add additional pressure to already stressed joints. Avoid running, skipping and any sports that require jumping or intense physical impact with another object or person. Instead, try swimming, cycling and walking. You don’t have to become an all-star athlete overnight. Just 30 minutes (5) of moderate exercise each day not only benefits stiff joints but it may also improve heart health, reduce stress and improve your memory.
As always, if you’re experiencing pain of any kind, we recommend visiting your doctor before starting a new exercise routine.
Step 4 - Natural Pain Management
While traditional painkillers are effective and sometimes necessary to manage joint pain, there are plenty of natural options to explore as well.
Try taking a bath in Epsom salt which you should be able to pick up in any convenience or health food store for just a few dollars. Because Epsom salts are easily absorbed into the skin they provide fast relief, reducing muscle spasms and soothing inflammation. Add about 2 cups to a hot bath and soak for a minimum of 30 minutes.
Heat and cold therapy can also help to reduce inflammation and swelling and relieve pain in aching joints. Pick up a therapeutic hot pack, and make your own cold pack by simply putting a few ice cubes into a tea towel or a clean sock. Apply the hot pack for roughly 10 minutes and then alternate with the cold to help manage on the spot joint stiffness and inflammation.
There are many different conditions that can cause joint pain so it’s important to visit your doctor for a diagnosis if you’re experiencing long-term pain or discomfort. Your doctor can rule out serious conditions that could potentially worsen over time, and they can also give you a realistic idea of what the root causes of your pain could be and help you determine the best course of long-term treatment. If you are experiencing pain as the result of an injury, be sure to rest, and let your body determine the speed of your recovery. If you experience pain when exercising it’s best to rest and resume when the pain subsides.
Remember this 5 step natural plan to ease joint pain and try changing up your diet to help relieve inflammation from the inside out.
Pure Vitality a natural supplement company based in an isolated village nestled against the snow-capped Southern Alps of New Zealand. We research health conditions thoroughly to discover the underlying root causes, find the most effective natural remedies, target the root causes rather than use a Band-Aid approach, use a multi-prong approach to fix the root causes from many directions and use high potency ingredients at scientifically supported amounts.