Lost the spring in your step? Noticing minor but new niggles in your joints? While ageing can lead to wear and tear in your joints, it doesn’t need to take over your day-to-day life. There are ways that might help to ease any pain and discomfort.
Here are some simple remedies you can try right now that may help to manage joint pain and inflammation.
For centuries, people have suspected a link between gloomy weather and chronic pain but until recently this has been largely considered an old wives’ tale or pure coincidence. But if the results of recent research are anything to go by, keeping your joints warm, especially in damp and cold climates, could keep pain at bay.
Applying heat on joint pains can provide fast and easy relief
Preliminary data from the University of Manchester’s Cloudy With a Chance of Pain study — involving 9000 people with arthritis, back pain and migraines — found pain increased in the wetter, darker months of the year, and eased during sunny days.
Arthritis Australia suggests using hot towels, water bottles or heating pads to increase circulation and relax muscles around the affected joints.
Conversely, some people may benefit from cold treatments (e.g. placing ice packs wrapped in a towel on the sore joint) to reduce swelling and improve joint function.
Manage pain with mindfulness
Learning how to be in the moment, or mindful, may lessen the severity of pain and decrease its impact in the long term.
People who practice mindful meditation, according to University of Sydney researchers, can also reduce what experts refer to as ‘pain catastrophising’, which is when negative thoughts can magnify pain or stop a person from getting past the anticipated pain and resuming daily activities.
Learn the basics of meditation with this 20 minute routine by the University of Sydney, or enrol in one of these free, online self-guided courses:
Support your joints with insoles, bracing or taping
If you have osteoarthritis, your GP, physiotherapist or exercise physiologist may recommend using an assistive device to support and reduce stress on your joints. Insoles in your shoes can help evenly distribute the weight and pressure on your joints, so speak to your podiatrist about your options.
If you have knee pain, high heel shoes (3.5cm or higher) can worsen symptoms by increasing the pressure on the medial side of the knee, which is the side closest to your other leg. To reduce pain, opt for a supportive, low heel shoe and speak to your podiatrist about appropriate insoles and footwear.
Another way to reduce pressure on the medial side of your knee is to use a leg brace, says Arthritis Australia. For short-term relief, your physiotherapist may also tape the patella to ease osteoarthritis in the knee and improvement joint alignment.
Studies show that eating certain foods such as fish, nuts, beans, fresh vegetables and fruits may help curb inflammation and aid in the management of osteoarthritic pain.
The active chemical in turmeric – a common spice used in Persian, Indian and Chinese cooking — also has anti-inflammatory properties.
Getting enough turmeric through food to have an anti-inflammatory effect is difficult, but supplements like Curcumin Anti-Inflammatory Pain Reliever by Australian NaturalCare are the equivalent of 18 teaspoons of turmeric, in just one tablet! Check out the special offer that Australian NaturalCare is extending to WYZA readers here.
Oily fish such as mackerel or salmon are a great anti-inflammatory food to add to your diet
The Arthritis Foundation recommends adding these anti-inflammatory foods to your weekly diet:
- Eat oily fish twice a week. This could include salmon, tuna, sardines, herring, anchovies and scallops.
- A handful of mixed nuts every day. Nuts are high in monounsaturated fat, which ease inflammation, and high in protein which can promote weight loss meaning less pressure on joints in the long term.
- 9 servings of colourful fruits and vegies every day. Blueberries, cherries, spinach, kale and broccoli are good options, but variety is key. Also add one cup of beans every second day.
- 2-3 tablespoons of olive oil daily. Olive oil contains oleocanthal, which appears to have an anti-inflammatory effect.
- ½ cup of cooked brown rice, quinoa or 1 slice wholegrain bread per day. Wholegrains are rich in fibre, which can help you maintain healthy weight to reduce pain.
Combination of aerobic and resistance-based exercises
Adding resistance training to your fitness routine will build muscle strength, in turn improving bone and joint function.
Australian guidelines for physical activity recommend muscle strengthening activities at least two days per week, including free weights, weight machines, resistance bands, or using your own body weight for beginners.
For people with osteoarthritis, The American College of Rheumatology strongly recommends incorporating aerobic exercise as well as a strength program.
Fitness Australia has developed a handy screening tool for anyone thinking about starting a new program, but the best advice for getting started is to chat with your GP or exercise physiologist about an exercise routine that works best for you.
If you would like to learn more and see the special offer Australian NaturalCare is extending to WYZA readers on Curcumin, click here.
What remedies have you used that helped to lessen joint pain?