Arthritis is a condition characterized by painful inflammation and stiffness in the joints. According to the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 52.5 million U.S. adults suffer from either arthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, gout, fibromyalgia, or lupus. (Study) While most people living with moderate-to-severe arthritis resort to prescription medication to mask their symptoms, a safer and more effective form of treatment may come in the form of acupuncture.
Numerous studies have found acupuncture to offer relief of many different types of arthritis. And best of all, it doesn't come with the adverse side effects associated with arthritis medication. Acupuncture aids in regulating the nervous system, which in turn produces the natural pain-relieving chemicals called endorphins. In addition, acupuncture will boost the body’s natural ability to heal itself and thereby lower the inflammation which contributes to the pain associated with arthritis.
In addition to receiving acupuncture treatments, here are a few other things you can do for yourself to manage and lessen your symptoms:
1) Maintain a Healthy Weight: The first step in reducing the pain and inflammation of arthritis is to manage your weight. Individuals who are overweight will experience more arthritis flare-ups, and with worsening symptoms. The excess weight places pressure against the already inflamed joints, causing additional pain and stiffness.
2) Take a Joint Supplement: Whether your arthritis is minor or severe, you should get into the habit of taking a daily joint supplement. Glucosamine and chondroitin are powerful compounds which have been proven to alleviate the symptoms of arthritis. These two compounds are building blocks of cartilage, and taking a supplement containing them will protect strengthen your own body's cartilage while subsequently protecting your joints.
3) Exercise: It's difficult to stay active when the slightest movements cause sharp pain shooting through your joints. However, studies have shown that regular, low-impact exercise like walking or swimming, will reduce the pain and stiffness associated with arthritis.
4) Meditate: You might be surprised to learn that meditation can alleviate arthritis pain and discomfort. The National Institute of Health (NIH) even published an article on its website, citing meditation as being an effective form of treatment for people with joint pain.
5) Fatty Acids: Omega-3 fatty acids are essential for good health, but they are particularly beneficial for people suffering from arthritis. Omega-3s strengthen and protect the joints, which in turn alleviates the symptoms of arthritis. Wild-caught fish is an excellent source of omega 3s, as well as extra-virgin olive oil.
6) Massage Therapy: Massaging the joints affected by arthritis reduces swelling, stiffness and even pain, giving the individual greater freedom of movement.
7) Dietary Changes: The foods we eat can have a significant effect on the level of inflammation in our body. Certain foods, including sugar, bell peppers, tomatoes, hot peppers, eggplants and potatoes can contribute to higher levels of inflammation and should be avoided by those suffering from arthritis. Other foods such as turmeric, green tea, ginger and garlic can lower inflammation and ease arthritic pain. For more details on how diet contributes to inflammation, check out a few of my previous blog post:
- Foods that Contribute to Inflammation
- Foods that Heal Inflammation
- The Importance of Recognizing Food Sensitivities
I hope these self-help tips will be helpful to begin easing your arthritis symptoms. Give me a call today to add acupuncture to support further healing and learn how you can get back on track to better health!