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  • Writer's pictureValerie Smith, APRN

13 Natural Ways to Reduce Arthritis Flares

Updated: Nov 20, 2021

There is no doubt that living with a rheumatic disease is difficult. The pain, stiffness, inflammation, and fatigue can be a daily struggle that may significantly compromise your quality of life.

At Paducah Rheumatology, we work hard to help you find solutions to improve the way you feel and how well you function from day to day. We want to decrease the debilitating effects of your condition and control your symptoms as best we can.

There are a variety of ways to go about this. Taking a prescribed medication is one approach to managing your arthritis. While some are designed to slow the development of joint damage, others target inflammation and pain. Some patients qualify for surgery. Total joint replacements or joint fusions are used in serious cases where the arthritis has progressed enough to limit mobility, stability and functionality.

There are also natural ways to reduce arthritis flare-ups. These include habits and decisions you can incorporate into your everyday schedule to help decrease arthritis symptoms and flares. And yes, I know some items on the list below are suggestions I often make. They are that important and worth repeating again! So, let’s dive into discussing less invasive options that many arthritis patients find beneficial.

Diet - Specific foods feed inflammation, and certain foods are believed to fight inflammation. No two people are exactly alike, and a diet regime that works for one person may not work for another. It’s a bit of trial and error, but learning what foods help or hinder your own body is well worth the effort.

Exercise - This is all about keeping your body in motion. Less movement equals more stiffness. Less muscle means weaker joints. Explore your exercise options to find a type that best suits your abilities. Walking, swimming, biking, yoga, or aerobics are a few suggestions.

Sleep - Quality sleep is 100% crucial. Your body and immune system need sleep to function properly. Actually, research suggests sleep problems and inflammation go hand in hand. Experts in this article by the Arthritis Foundation say “there is something about sleep disruption that predisposes people with arthritis to become more disabled over time” and “that studies show CNS pathways (the spinal cord and brain) that regulate pain may be abnormal in people who are not sleeping well.”

Vitamins/Supplements - Nothing compares to a nutrient-dense diet, but vitamins can most certainly help fill in the gaps, especially if you are prone to vitamin deficiencies. An article by the Arthritis Foundation states: “Glucosamine and chondroitin are two of the most commonly used supplements for arthritis. They’re components of cartilage—the substance that cushions the joints … The polyunsaturated omega-3 fatty acids found in fish have potent anti-inflammatory properties … S-adenosyl-methionine (SAM-e) is a natural compound in the body that has anti-inflammatory, cartilage-protecting and pain-relieving effects … Several vitamins have been studied for their effects on arthritis, including the antioxidant vitamins A, C, and E, and vitamins D and K.”

Stress Management - Stress activates the release of certain chemicals in your body. Prolonged stress can even trigger an inflammatory response. Take steps to lower your stress level. Of course, this is easier said than done. Perhaps begin by finding a few moments in each day to reset and take relaxation breaks while practicing some deep breathing exercises.

Physical Therapy - Want to improve your grip strength? Want to increase your range of motion? A physical therapist is a trained professional that can give you unique suggestions on how to strengthen and stretch your body.

Acupuncture - This article by the Arthritis Foundation does a great job of explaining how acupuncture works: “A well-placed needle sets off a cascade of events … producing a signal that travels along the spinal cord to the brain, triggering a release of neurotransmitters called endorphins and enkephalins, which scientists believe reduce the sensation of pain. Research also shows that inserting an acupuncture needle induces the production of cortisol, a hormone that helps control inflammation. Acupuncture may stimulate the activity of other pain-relieving chemicals in the body as well.”

Massage - Some patients find mild to moderate pressure massages a great way to relieve pain and discomfort. There are several different kinds of massage therapy, so make sure to discuss your arthritic symptoms with your massage therapist.

Cold and Heat - Ice packs versus heating pads? Cold compresses are known to reduce swelling and ease muscle spasms. Local heat application can lessen stiffness and relax tight or aching muscles. Some may even find a combination of both useful.

Meditation - This is an activity where you are purposely focusing on your mind and body. Meditation is all about being mindful and aware of your breathing, thoughts, energy, and feelings.

Drink Selections - Cut out sugar-sweetened beverages, alcohol, and caffeinated drinks. You might be surprised by how much your joints will thank you.

Lifestyle Choices - If you use tobacco products, please consider quitting. Research has proven numerous times that smoking is linked to the development of multiple medical conditions, including arthritis.

Counseling - Living with arthritis can be mentally taxing. It is okay to seek the guidance of a professional counselor or therapist to help you maneuver through the challenges that come your way.

The healthcare team Paducah Rheumatology wants to help you live your best life! Following this list of natural ways to reduce arthritis flare-ups just may be life-changing. We encourage you to incorporate them into your disease management plan.

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