With guidelines in place to slow the spread of COVID-19, many patients suffering from joint pain decided to put doctors visits and surgeries on hold. These home remedies can help you without having to leave the house.
As with any home remedy, these are not replacements for your medications or the plan or doctor has instructed. They are options you can try to get you through until doctors visits and surgeries can be scheduled. The Heekin Clinic is now scheduling appointments and TELEHEALTH visits, contact the office to schedule.
Ice is a common and inexpensive way to provide pain relief, decrease swelling, and reduce inflammation to a joint. There are various different types of ice packs made of gel or ice water systems available. A frozen bag of vegetables or an ice bag from the freezer can also do the trick.
Be sure to never apply ice directly to the skin, and limit the time to 20 min or less to prevent damage to the skin. Furthermore, you should not use ice if you have circulation or skin sensitivity issues.
Heat can be used to temporarily subdue pain and increase flexibility. Typically heat works well over muscles and tendons involved with an arthritic joint. It is important to keep the temperature at a comfortable level to prevent burns and skin damage. Likewise, if you have an open wound or skin condition you should refrain from using heat therapy.
Heat comes in many forms, such as gel packs, warm water bottles, steamed towel, or even a hot bath or sauna.
There are several foods to add to your daily diet that can improve arthritis symptoms. For example, fish and nuts high in omega-3 fatty acids can help reduce inflammation in the joint. Fruits and vegetable high in antioxidants such as spinach, berries and grapes can also lessen arthritis symptoms.
In addition, garlic and broccoli have also be found to be packed full of compounds that are found to have strong anti-inflammatory properties.
Ginger is a food that has been heavily researched for it’s ability to lessen arthritis symptoms and block inflammation. Ginger can be consumed fresh, as an additive in foods or most commonly in ginger teas.
To curb your arthritis symptoms you can also avoid the types of foods that increase inflammation. Foods high in sugar, high fructose corn syrup, and artificial trans-fats can increase arthritis symptoms. Highly processed meats and breads have also been known to affect your health negatively. Likewise, excessive alcohol intake can increase inflammation in the body.
Epsom salt is compounded of magnesium, sulfur and oxygen and releases the minerals when dissolved in water. Some studies find that soaking in epsom salt can decrease inflammation in the body.
Epsom salt is readily available at grocery stores and pharmacies. Adding 2 cups to a daily warm bath can help ease arthritis symptoms such as pain and stiffness. Studies found that 20-30 minutes of soaking in an epsom salt bath for at least two weeks showed the most improvement.
Be sure to keep the water at a temperature that won’t cause skin damage, especially if you have decreased sensation. It is also best to rinse off afterwards as the epsom salt can dry out the skin.
Massage brings blood flow to the area and increase tissue mobility. Studies suggest that as little as 20 minutes of self massage twice a week can improve arthritis symptoms.
Self massage is most easily done seated and with a light to moderate touch. Work in long stokes to warm up the tissues before focusing on more tender areas. Lotion or oil can be used to assist in the movements, and work the muscles groups surrounding the joint. The massage should feel good- never painful. Ease up on the pressure if you feel increased pain or soreness.
The key when it comes to exercising during an arthritis flare up is gentle. Exercise can improve flexibility, reduce stiffness, improve circulation and strengthen the muscles around the joints, but should not increase your arthritis pain. Listen to your body and what exercises feel good or what causes your joint pain to increase.
In general, low impact cardiovascular exercises such as walking, cycling, water aerobics and swimming can subdue arthritis symptoms. Controlled exercise incorporating stretching into the routine such as pilates or yoga can help. Modifications can be made to prevent discomfort the the arthritic joint.
Tai Chi is also used for arthritis patients to relieve pain and improve function. Often described as “meditation in motion the technique focuses on mindful movements without over stretching or overworking the body. Tai Chi can improve balance, flexibility, muscle strength, and for some people, aerobic fitness.