Natural Pain Relief for Joints

September 28, 2015 at 5:22 am  •  0 Comments

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With the cold, damp weather approaching your joints may begin to feel a familiar pain. Millions of people around the world suffer from some form of arthritis. Osteoarthritis is the most common type of arthritis which can affect adults as early as age 40; by the age of 70, most people experience some form of joint pain on a regular basis. Before you take a trip to your medicine cabinet, however, consider these tips for natural pain relief.

Acupuncture

Acupuncture is an ancient traditional Chinese therapy which has been used for over 2000 years to increase blood circulation, qi (energy flow) and reduce pain syndromes such as arthritis. During an acupuncture treatment, the practitioner will insert fine needles beneath the surface of the skin along specific meridians and leave the needles in for a period of time. Recent studies have shown acupuncture to reduce pain and swelling of arthritic joints and to reduce inflammatory chemicals such as tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-alpha) and vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), chemicals associated with the inflammatory response in the body. Acupuncture is a tried and true therapy for managing joint pain in my practice.

Glucosamine Sulphate

Glucosamine sulphate is a naturally occurring sugar molecule and a major component of the fluid surrounding your joints. Supplements containing glucosamine sulphate are widely available and are typically derived from either shellfish or a vegetable source. It is important to check the labels before purchasing this product; if you have an allergy to shellfish you’ll need to avoid this supplement. Scientific studies comparing glucosamine sulphate to standard anti-inflammatory medications have been promising. Glucosamine sulphate has been shown to reduce the pain and stiffness associated with osteoarthritis of the knee.

Ginger

Zingiber officinale, otherwise known as ginger, is a dynamic spice with a host of health benefits. Known for its antioxidant properties, ginger protects your cells from the wear and tear that occurs naturally with age. Ginger increases circulation to your joints which decreases the stiffness and helps to clear out inflammation. A human trial performed at the University of Miami examined the effects of a concentrated ginger extract against a placebo. Patients suffering from osteoarthritis who took the ginger extract experienced a 40% decrease in knee pain compared to the participants who took the placebo. Ginger is a great addition to soups, stews and your morning smoothie. I suggest taking the ginger out of your pantry and adding it to your medicine cabinet. It may help.

Nutrition

Eating a healthy, nutrient-dense diet is the key to managing arthritis. Not only will eating healthy help you manage your weight, a healthy diet will provide the nutrients required for maintaining healthy muscles and it may help reduce the inflammation in your joints. Gout, one type of arthritis wherein uric acid crystals deposit within your joints, can be managed by restricting purine-rich foods such as red meat and beer. In general, limit processed foods which tend to be high in sodium as these foods can contribute to swelling.

Exercise

It’s important to keep moving. Exercise may help reduce pain over time by improving the circulation to your joints and increasing the strength of your muscles. A 2013 review article published in, “South African Family Practice”, examined exercise prescriptions for pain management for rheumatoid arthritis. The study concluded that range of motion exercises, stretching, strengthening and cardiovascular exercises should be performed regularly to increase mobility, reduce morbidity and improve psychosocial health. Seek the guidance of an exercise specialist, physiotherapist or kinesiologist if you decide to add exercise to your daily routine.

Weight Loss

Weight loss: It’s not always easy but it’s really important. Carrying excess weight on your body increases the work your joints have to do. If losing weight is a challenge for you, work with a professional such as a personal trainer, naturopath or a holistic nutritionist who can help you to choose a program and lifestyle that works. Remember, for each pound you lose, it will be 4 pounds less pressure on your knees which equals less pain. Your efforts will be worth it in the end.

Joint pain can be debilitating, taking a toll on your physical and emotional health. Give some of these suggestions a try, the effects of natural medicine and simple lifestyle changes may prove to be beneficial for the management of your pain.

Dr. Olivia Rose
About the Author

Dr. Olivia Rose graduated from the University of Guelph with a Bachelor of Science Honours degree in Nutritional and Nutraceutical Sciences and in 2006, she graduated from the Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine.

In addition to her private practice, Dr. Rose is the director of Fertility Acupuncture Services, a mobile service that brings acupuncture to couples undergoing in vitro fertilization and intrauterine insemination at Toronto fertility clinics. Her special areas of interest include infertility; children and teen health; stress management; weight loss; heart disease; digestive and immune health; skin rejuvenation and pain management. She is a birth doula and has additional training in cosmetic acupuncture and needle-less therapies for skin rejuvenation and joint pain.

Dr. Rose is a sought-after lecturer for community organizations; a freelance writer and mentor to new graduates. She has been interviewed by various media outlets including Global Toronto’s, “The Morning Show”, “News at Noon” and “News Hour”. In her free time, she unplugs at the spa and she enjoys spending quality time with her husband, son and tea-cup Yorkie. For more information on Dr. Rose's practice and special events, please visit - www.oroseND.com