Osteoarthritis is the most common type of arthritis which affects millions of people globally. This disease develops when the cartilage that protects the ends of the bones is degraded over a period of time. There is no precise cause of the condition, but there are a number of factors that contribute to this form of arthritis. These include obesity, diabetes, injury to the bones and a strenuous lifestyle. In some cases, affected people get osteoarthritis as a result of genetic predisposition or as a result of complications arising from a different type of arthritis.
While osteoarthritis can affect just about any joint in the bone, it is most common in the knees, spine and hands. These symptoms do not manifest overnight, and instead develop gradually over a period of time. Some of the symptoms that characterize this condition include extreme pain in the joint stiffness as well as swelling especially after strenuous activities. These symptoms tend to peak in the morning and at night when temperatures dip. Since osteoarthritis has no cure, treatment options revolve around managing the symptoms to reduce their intensity. Home remedies come in handy as they help ease the pain and make the condition far more bearable.
1. Hot or Cold Compress
Time Required: 20 Min
What You Need: A clean towel and either of the following: hot water in a bottle or a handful of ice cubes
As mentioned above, the natural treatment of osteoarthritis largely revolves around managing the symptoms of the condition. The use of hot or cold compresses targets pain management in different ways. The cold compress comes in handy because it reduces the swelling at the joints while keeping inflammation minimal. A hot compress on the other hand, is great at easing joint stiffness and reducing the pain. Use either of the remedies depending on your preferences. Alternatively, use the compresses alternately to get the best of both worlds.
Preparing the Hot Compress
- Wrap the hot water bottle with a clean towel.
- Place the hot compress on the affected joints and massage for a few minutes.
- Take a 2-minute breaker and massage once more.
- Repeat this procedure until the water cools.
- Use as often as is needed.
Preparing the Cold Compress
- Place a handful of the ice cubes on the clean towel and wrap the ends.
- Put the ice pack on the affected joint and massage gently to lower the swelling.
- Do this for a couple of minutes and then take a break.
- Repeat this process for about 20 minutes.
- Use the remedy as often as you need to.
You may use the compresses alternately depending on the severity of the condition or your preferences.
2. Massage Therapy:
Time Required: 30 Min
What You Need: Preferred massage oil (you may choose olive /coconut/ camphor + mustard oil) and warm water bath.
Massage therapy works well for many osteoarthritis patients. Regular massage sessions help reduce the intensity of pain and inflammation associated with this type of arthritis. Massage has also been shown to reduce the swelling while improving the flow of blood to the affected joints. This goes a long way in soothing the muscles as well as reducing stiffness in the joints.
Oils are added to this form of therapy to prevent friction which would make the remedy painful. Olive and coconut oils are best known for their anti-inflammatory properties, while the combination of mustard and camphor oils goes a long way in reducing the pain. You will need a warm water bath to heat the oil indirectly for best results. Depending on the severity of your condition, you may choose to get a professional massage therapist to carry out the remedy.
NOTE: If you find that the massage intensifies the symptoms of osteoarthritis, it is important to stop using the remedy immediately.
- Place your preferred oil in a small bowl and heat in a warm water bath.
- Place some of the warm oil on the affected joints and massage gently.
Camphor + Mustard Oil
- Alternatively, prepare a combine remedy by mixing the camphor with the mustard oil.
- Take 2 tablespoons of the camphor and add to 1 cup of mustard oil.
- Place the mixture in a pan and heat on low heat for 5 minutes. This allows the camphor’s active ingredients to transfer to the oil.
- Let the oil mixture cool for 20 minutes.
- Apply the oil on the affected joints and proceed to massage.
3. Raw Ginger:
Time Required: 20 Min
What You Need: Fresh raw ginger, 1 cup of water, strainer and 1 tablespoon of raw honey.
One of the most potent home remedies available for the management of osteoarthritis is ginger. Studies have gone on to show that when a purified form of the extract is used by patients, it shows great positive results in reducing the joint pain. This is attributed to the herb’s rich anti-inflammatory properties. When introduced to the body, the ginger reduces the pain and swelling. Biochemically, ginger works by blocking the function of COX-2, one of the key chemical compounds in the pain mediation pathway. In doing so, the ginger is able to reduce the intensity of the pain experienced by osteoarthritis patients. You may either prepare ginger tea or chew on fresh ginger as indicated below.
Prepare a cup of Ginger Tea
- Peel and wash the fresh ginger before cutting into pieces. You may also grate the ginger.
- Add the grated ginger to a cup of water and stir.
- Transfer the mixture to a pan and boil for 5 minutes.
- Turn off the heat and allow the ginger to steep for 5 minutes.
- Pass the tea through a strainer and stir in the raw honey.
- Drink this tea thrice daily, including in the morning and evening.
Chew on Raw Ginger
- Alternatively, cut the raw ginger and chew on it during the day.
- It also helps to add the ginger to your daily cooking.
4. Epsom Salts:
Time Required: 12 Min
What You Need: 2 cups of Epsom salt, warm water in a bath and a clean towel. Massage oil (optional).
Epsom salts have long been used to treat conditions that cause pain and inflammation, and for this reason, are effective in treating osteoarthritis. The salts contain Magnesium and sulfates which are integral to the pain pathway. The result of soaking the affected joints in an Epsom salt bath is that this remedy helps manage the pain and swelling. The most important thing to note when using this remedy is that it is not recommended for people with kidney disorders and/or diabetes.
- Add 2 cups of the Epsom salts in the tub and run the warm water.
- Soak in this water for at least 20 minutes, all the while gently massaging the affected joint(s).
- Dry the skin and massage the joint using either olive or coconut oil.
- Repeat this remedy thrice weekly until you get relief from the symptoms of osteoarthritis.
5. Green Tea:
Time Required: 20 Min
What You Need: 1 Teaspoon of green tea leaves, 1 cup of water, a strainer and 1 tablespoon of raw organic honey.
Green tea is a reliable remedy for the natural treatment of osteoarthritis symptoms largely because it has rich anti-inflammatory properties that help manage the pain and inflammation. In addition to this, the tea is also rich in antioxidants that go a long way in reducing the swelling. Research also indicates that green tea is beneficial in the health of the bones as it ensures preservation of bone density which is key for osteoarthritis patients.
- Add a teaspoon of the green leaves to a cup of water.
- Boil the two for 5 minutes and then turn off the heat and allow to steep for a couple of minutes to get the most of the tea’s healing powers.
- Strain the tea and stir in the honey to act as a natural sweetener.
- Drink 3 cups of green tea daily to manage the symptoms of osteoarthritis.
6. Cinnamon Powder:
Time Required: 20 Min
What You Need: 1 Tablespoon of ground cinnamon, 1 tablespoon of honey and warm water.
Cinnamon, just like ginger, is a popular herb used to treat conditions that cause pain and inflammation. Cinnamon is best known for its anti-inflammatory properties and the heat it generates in the body. This is very helpful in treating joint pain as well as relaxing stiff muscles around the affected joint. Prepare the cinnamon tea as indicated in the steps below.
- Place the cinnamon in the glass of hot water and then stir in the raw honey.
- Drink this mixture every morning, preferably on an empty stomach.
7. Regular Exercise:
Time Required: Varies depending on your preferred routines
What You Need: Appropriate gear depending on the exercise and a solid place to exercise from.
Regular exercise does not always come to mind as a form of therapy for osteoarthritis patients, but research shows that this is one of the most reliable ways to address the condition’s symptoms. Exercise not only strengthens the bones, it also plays a key role in ensuring that the joints remain flexible. In addition, regular exercise also strengthens the muscles which in turn protect the affected joints.
For those who have excess weight/obese, exercise helps shed the weight and places less strain on the joints. This effectively reduces the stress and pain within the joints. There are two types of exercises recommended for this purpose: aerobics and resistance training. Aerobic exercises help burn calories, which in turn reduces weight and is best placed for overweight osteoarthritis patients. Resistance training on the other hand, strengthens the muscles. The most important thing to note is that while exercise is helpful, it is key to note when to exercise. Whenever you experience huge flareups of osteoarthritis, it is advisable to steer clear of any exercise routines until the pain is reduced.
- Establish your preferred exercise routine alongside a professional trainer for the best results. This will help strike a balance between exercising and avoiding strenuous routines that predispose the affected joints to further injury. As such, the routines may vary from one person to the other.
- Incorporate stretching exercises to your routine in order to reduce stiffness and enhance flexibility.
8. Eucalyptus Oil:
Time Required: 10 Min
What You Need: Eucalyptus oil and cotton wool. Hot compress (optional).
Eucalyptus oil is widely recognized as a reliable home remedy for the management of osteoarthritis symptoms. The oil is especially effective when applied topically on the affected joint. The oil is rich in anti-inflammatory properties, and is also thought to contain tannins. These tannins help reduce the swelling in the joint. The use of eucalyptus oil may be followed up with the application of a hot compress for best results.
- Soak the cotton wool in the eucalyptus oil and apply on the affected joints.
- Massage the oil in and allow a few minutes for skin absorption.
- You may follow up this remedy with the use of a ot compress for its added healing benefits.
9. Get a Good Night’s Rest:
Time Required: Varies depending on one’s schedule
What You Need: A comfortable bed and an established routine.
Getting a good night’s rest is key to helping osteoarthritis patients deal with the stress that the joint condition brings about. By getting enough sleep, you are in a better mental frame to make sound decisions as well as cope with pain and inflammation. Listed below are some of the tips that should help you get a good night’s rest.
Tips to Benefits from a Good Night’s Sleep
- Establish a sleeping routine by trying to go to bet at the same time on a daily basis. This eases the strain on your internal body clock and makes it easy to fall into restful sleep.
- Avoid late-night screen time. The light emitted by televisions, computers and mobile phones among others makes it harder for the brain to disengage, which in turn makes it difficult to fall asleep.
- If you experience discomfort, invest in soft pillows to ease the strain on the affected joints.
- You may take a soothing cup of green or chamomile tea to ease the transition to sleep.
Additional ways to Deal with Osteoarthritis
- Stop drinking and smoking as this is known to aggravate osteoarthritis.
- Keep a positive attitude to reduce the stress levels which are known to increase the intensity of the condition’s symptoms.
- Eat a balanced diet to keep your bones in good health. It also helps to eat foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids as these reduce the pain and inflammation.
These are some of the simple ways in which you can manage osteoarthritis on your own at home. Whenever you experience flareups which typically tend to occur in the cold season, remember to reduce exercise activity to allow the pain to subside. If in doubt, make an appointment with your doctor so as to chart the way forward.