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Natural Remedies To Manage Osteoarthritis + Causes, Symptoms, And Diet Tips

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Natural Remedies To Manage Osteoarthritis + Causes, Symptoms, And Diet Tips May 20, 2019

Osteoarthritis is an inflammatory joint disorder that is estimated to affect 15% of the global population – which is around 630 million people (1)!

The world may look quite different for people with osteoarthritis. Every little stop, be it at a restroom or the grocery store, brings about a new challenge due to the high chances of a flare-up. Stiff joints, pain while moving, and tenderness are some of the characteristics of the disease.

This disease progresses in stages and can respond better to treatment if detected early. There are a number of treatment options, all of which aim at managing the symptoms and slowing down the progression of the disease. Are natural remedies as effective as medical treatments to manage osteoarthritis? What else can be done to improve the quality of life of the affected individuals? Keep reading to find out.

What Is Osteoarthritis?

Arthritis is an umbrella term used to define a host of conditions affecting the joints. Osteoarthritis is one of the most common types of arthritis that affects millions of people. The wearing down of the protective cartilage at the end of your bones is the major trigger of this condition.

While osteoarthritis can affect any part of your body, it is mostly known to damage the joints in the hands, knees, hips, and spine.

Osteoarthritis takes several years to develop and often progresses in stages.

What Are The Stages Of Osteoarthritis?

Osteoarthritis progresses in the following stages:

  • Stage 1 – Minor: It is characterized by the formation of osteophytes (small lumps of bone) in the knee area. Cartilage may be damaged slightly. The symptoms are not evident in this stage.
  • Stage 2 – Mild: Symptoms begin surfacing in this stage. X-rays can reveal the growth of osteophytes and thinning of the cartilage. The affected individual may experience stiffness or joint pain during this stage. The synovial fluid is still present in this stage, and it helps reduce the friction.
  • Stage 3 – Moderate: Cartilage damage progresses in this stage, and cartilage loss will be easily detected in scans. The individuals may experience pain while performing day-to-day activities like running or walking. The cartilage continues to thin down, and the bones thicken and grow outward, forming lumps. Extra synovial fluid may also be produced in this stage due to the inflammation of the tissues lining the joints.
  • Stage 4 – Severe: The symptoms are very much visible in this stage. The damage to the cartilage continues and will result in stiffness, inflammation, and less synovial fluid. This causes increased friction in the joints, which also results in more pain and discomfort. The cartilage either completely wears away or is hardly present in this stage. The bones can also become deformed or angulated in severe cases due to asymmetric cartilage loss. Surgical intervention is often the only treatment option at this stage.

The wear and tear of the cartilage is the main cause of osteoarthritis. Let us now look at the factors responsible for triggering this condition.

Causes And Risk Factors For Osteoarthritis

Cartilage is a connective tissue that permits frictionless movement of the joints. However, in people with osteoarthritis, the cartilage becomes rough and begins wearing down. This, in turn, causes your bones to rub against each other and leads to damaged bones.

Factors that may increase an individual’s risk of developing osteoarthritis include:

  • Advancing age
  • Gender – It is more common in women.
  • Obesity
  • Injuries to the joint
  • Genetics – This condition can be inherited from one’s parents.
  • Congenital bone deformities

Osteoarthritis is often characterized by the following signs and symptoms.

Signs And Symptoms Of Osteoarthritis

The common signs and symptoms of osteoarthritis are:

  • Joint pain
  • Tenderness in the affected joints
  • Stiffness of the joints
  • Loss of flexibility
  • Formation of bone spurs in the affected joints
  • A grating sensation while using the affected joint

Can you relate any of these symptoms? If yes, consult a doctor immediately to rule out the possibility of osteoarthritis or other serious health conditions.

How Is Osteoarthritis Diagnosed?

Your doctor will start by physically examining your affected joints. They may also look for signs of tenderness, swelling, and redness and monitor your range of motion.

Imaging tests suggested for osteoarthritis are:

  • X-rays – X-rays do not show cartilage, but they can reveal its loss due to the narrowing space between the joints.
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) – It uses radio waves and a powerful magnetic field to produce an image of the bone and soft tissues as well as the cartilage. It is used for more complex cases of osteoarthritis.

Laboratory tests that can help confirm osteoarthritis are:

  • Blood Test – Blood tests are carried out to rule out other causes of joint problems like rheumatoid arthritis.
  • Joint Fluid Analysis – The fluid drawn out of an affected joint is tested to look for inflammation and determine the cause of the pain.

If a person is diagnosed with osteoarthritis, treatment is usually prescribed to manage the symptoms and slow down the progression of the disease.

While the medical treatment options for this condition can be discussed with your doctor, there are a number of natural remedies that can aid these treatments in reducing the severity of your symptoms. They are listed below.

Home Remedies To Manage Osteoarthritis

1. Hot Or Cold Compress

Hot Or Cold Compress Pinit

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You Will Need

A hot or cold compress

What You Have To Do
  1. Apply a hot or cold compress to the affected body part.
  2. Leave it on for 20-30 minutes and remove.
  3. You can also alternate between hot and cold compresses for faster relief.
How Often You Should Do This

You may do this 2-3 times daily.

Why This Works

Both hot and cold compresses can alleviate inflammation as well as musculoskeletal pain (2). These packs may also be helpful in reducing joint pain associated with osteoarthritis.

2. Epsom Salt Bath

Epsom Salt Bath Pinit

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You Will Need
  • 1 cup of Epsom salt
  • Water
What You Have To Do
  1. Add a cup of Epsom salt to a tub filled with water.
  2. Allow the salt to dissolve completely.
  3. Soak in the Epsom salt bath for 15-20 minutes.
How Often You Should Do This

You may do this once daily or every alternate day.

Why This Works

Epsom salt contains magnesium, which can reduce inflammation in the joints (3).

3. Fish Oil

Fish Oil Pinit

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You Will Need

Fish oil supplement

What You Have To Do
  1. Consume fish oil supplements daily.
  2. Talk to your doctor for the appropriate dosage.
How Often You Should Do This

You may take this supplement once daily.

Why This Works

Fish oil supplement can help manage osteoarthritis by alleviating the inflammatory symptoms and improving knee performance in the affected individuals (4).

4. Green Tea

Green Tea Pinit

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You Will Need
  • 1 teaspoon of green tea
  • 1 cup of hot water
What You Have To Do
  1. Add a teaspoon of green tea to a cup of hot water.
  2. Allow it to steep for 5-7 minutes and strain.
  3. Drink the warm tea.
How Often You Should Do This

You can drink this 1-2 times daily.

Why This Works

Green tea contains a polyphenol called epigallocatechin 3-gallate (EGCG). EGCG can slow down the progression of osteoarthritis and also relieve the painful symptoms associated with it (5).

5. Turmeric

Turmeric Pinit

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You Will Need
  • 1 teaspoon of turmeric powder
  • 1 glass of hot milk
What You Have To Do
  1. Add a teaspoon of turmeric powder to a glass of hot milk.
  2. Mix well and consume the mixture.
  3. Alternatively, you may also take curcumin supplements after consulting your doctor.
How Often You Should Do This

You can drink this once daily.

Why This Works

The active component in turmeric is curcumin, which exerts protective effects on osteoarthritis. It helps to slow down the progression of the disease by downregulating the inflammatory cytokines involved (6).

6. Ginger

Ginger Pinit

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You Will Need
  • 1 inch of sliced ginger
  • 1 cup of water
What You Have To Do
  1. Add an inch of sliced ginger to a cup of water.
  2. Bring it to a boil in a saucepan and simmer for 5 minutes.
  3. Switch off the stove and strain.
  4. Allow the solution to cool a bit before consuming.
How Often You Should Do This

You can do this 1-2 times daily.

Why This Works

Oral intake of ginger extracts is beneficial for osteoarthritis patients. It helps reduce pain and disability (7). It is also a great alternative to other medical treatments available for the disease.

7. Glucosamine

Glucosamine Pinit

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You Will Need

Glucosamine supplement

What You Have To Do
  1. Consume glucosamine supplement daily.
  2. Talk to your doctor before taking any additional supplements.
How Often You Should Do This

You may take this once daily or as recommended by your physician.

Why This Works

Glucosamine is a crystalline compound that naturally occurs in the fluid around your joints. Its supplement is often derived from the shells of shellfish and is known to exert a positive effect on both the symptomatic as well as structural factors of osteoarthritis (8).

Caution

The quality of the supplement matters a lot. Use only patent-protected formulations.

While these remedies work their magic and help you manage the symptoms of osteoarthritis, you need to pay attention to other things as well. The diet tips provided below can help a great deal in managing osteoarthritis and slowing down its progression.

What Are The Best Foods To Eat For Osteoarthritis?

Foods that can help manage the symptoms of osteoarthritis while reducing inflammation are:

  • Fatty fish – They contain polyunsaturated fats that have anti-inflammatory properties (4).
  • Dairy products – They are rich in calcium and vitamin D that can help with the inflammatory symptoms (9).
  • Leafy vegetables
  • Nuts
  • Green tea (5)

What Foods Should You Avoid If You Have Osteoarthritis?

Foods that can cause inflammation and should be avoided by those who have osteoarthritis are:

  • Sugar
  • Saturated fats
  • Refined carbohydrates

Listed below are some tips that can assist these remedies in slowing down the progression of osteoarthritis.

How To Delay The Progression Of Osteoarthritis

  • Maintain a healthy weight.
  • Keep your blood sugar level in control.
  • Avoid injuries.
  • Exercise regularly.
  • Get a relaxing or therapeutic massage from professionals to relieve pain and stiffness.
  • Get ample rest.

While there is no cure for osteoarthritis, these tips and remedies can help in reducing the severity of the symptoms while also slowing down the progression of the disease. However, If your symptoms get worse, or you experience a flare-up, or your current treatment is not working, contact your doctor immediately.

Hope you found this article useful. Please leave your feedback and suggestions in the comments box below.

Expert’s Answers For Readers’ Questions

What is the best exercise for osteoarthritis?

Walking and jogging can help mild to moderate cases of osteoarthritis by mobilizing your joint fluid and lubricating your joints. Strengthening and gentle stretching exercises can further help improve muscle strength.

Does osteoarthritis make you tired?

The inflammation and other symptoms caused by osteoarthritis can make you feel feverish and tired.

Is walking good for osteoarthritis?

Yes, walking is good for osteoarthritis patients as it can help reduce the stiffness of the joints and also have a positive impact on their overall quality of life.

When to see a doctor for osteoarthritis?

See a doctor as soon as you notice joint pain, stiffness, or any other symptoms of osteoarthritis. Availing early treatment can help slow down the progression of the disease before it leads to any other health complications.

References

  1. Osteoarthritis Research” Hospital For Special Surgery.
  2. Mechanisms and efficacy of heat and cold therapies for musculoskeletal injury.” Postgraduate Medical Journal, US National Library Of Medicine.
  3. Magnesium Decreases Inflammatory Cytokine Production: A Novel Innate Immunomodulatory Mechanism” Journal Of Immunology, US National Library Of Medicine.
  4. Efficacy and Safety of Fish Oil in Treatment of Knee Osteoarthritis.” Journal of the Medical Association of Thailand, US National Library Of Medicine.
  5. Green tea polyphenol treatment is chondroprotective, anti-inflammatory and palliative in a mouse posttraumatic osteoarthritis model” Arthritis Research And Therapy, US National Library Of Medicine.
  6. Curcumin Prevents Osteoarthritis by Inhibiting the Activation of Inflammasome NLRP3.” Journal of Interferon & Cytokine Research, US National Library Of Medicine.
  7. Efficacy and safety of ginger in osteoarthritis patients: a meta-analysis of randomized placebo-controlled trials.” Osteoarthritis Cartilage, US National Library Of Medicine.
  8. Role of glucosamine in the treatment for osteoarthritis” Rheumatology International, US National Library Of Medicine.
  9. The association of milk consumption with the occurrence of symptomatic knee osteoarthritis.” Clinical and Experimental Rheumatology, US National Library Of Medicine.