Ease up: how to soothe arthritis pain

There may not be a cure for arthritis, but you can keep the pain in check with gentle exercises, an anti-inflammatory diet and other tricks.

Ease up: how to soothe arthritis pain

Arthritis pain has several causes, including joint deterioration and an autoimmune disease (rheumatoid arthritis). No matter what the cause of your arthritis, a few specific practices — including gentle exercise, careful attention to diet and soothing soaks — can help ease your pain. Make sure to speak to your physician before you change your arthritis care plan.

Gentle exercises

Exercise is one area where a medical professional's input is particularly valuable. Work out too much, and your pain will worsen, but gentle movement almost always soothes arthritis pain. Start with easy stretching and work up to gentle, low-impact exercises like walking or water aerobics. Cycling is also a good choice. Avoid high-impact exercises like running that may worsen your joint pain, and pay attention to what your body is telling you; if your arthritis flares up, slow down and take it easy.

Have a soak

Clinicians in Sweden showed that "climatic therapy", that is, soaking in the mineral-rich waters of natural hot springs, can have a profoundly positive effect on arthritis pain. If you're not lucky enough to live near hot springs, you can get a similar effect by bathing in water with Epsom salts or dead sea salts. Alternatively, use warm showers and warm packs — not hot packs — to increase circulation and soothe arthritis pain.

Watch your diet

Certain foods produce inflammation in the body, which in turn worsens the pain of arthritis. Avoid inflammation-producing foods like fried foods, white flour and sugar, and limit your intake of red meat and dairy products. Some foods are beneficial: go for brightly coloured fruits and vegetables, plus anything high in omega-3 fatty acids or vitamin C. Cherries and dark-coloured berries are particularly good for reducing inflammation.

Weight loss helps

If you carry excess weight, that translates to extra pressure on your joints. Losing even a little weight, and keeping it off, can reduce your arthritis pain permanently. If you do them regularly, the same gentle exercises that soothe your arthritis pain can help you lose weight without provoking a flare-up.

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