If you suffer from arthritis pain and joint stiffness, you may be taking prescribed medications to control your symptoms. When medications alone fail to bring satisfactory results, there are ways to help ease your arthritis discomfort naturally. Complementary therapies and alternate treatments, such as acupuncture, massage and the use of herbal supplements, may be worth a try. With your doctor's approval, consider the following methods for controlling your arthritis or rheumatic condition naturally:
In this traditional Chinese treatment method, tiny needles are inserted into the affected joints to help release endorphins, which are your body's natural defense against pain. Some experts also believe that acupuncture defuses trigger points, which are sensitive areas that trigger pain. The practice of acupuncture should be performed only by a licensed and experienced specialist. Equipment should be thoroughly sterilized after each patient use.
During the session, the tiny needles will stay in place for a specified amount of time, generally a few minutes or longer. Due to the extremely light weight of the tiny needles, discomfort is minimal. When performed by a professional, the risk of complications are very slight.
Depending upon the severity of your condition, your rheumatologist or acupuncturist may recommend several treatment sessions or only a few. This may be determined by how well your body responds to the initial treatment. Your doctor may also combine acupuncture with other treatment options.
2. Massage Therapy
By manipulating affected joints by applying pressure with the hands, a massage therapist may be helpful. The goal of massage therapy for arthritis is to reduce stiff and painful joints and restore range of motion. There are various types of massage which may be used in therapy, including the following methods:
Shiatsu massage: Basically, this acupressure massage uses moderate pressure to the affected area to alleviate pain. Gentle stretching may be used in conjunction with the massage. Alternatively, you might try this as a form of self-massage, using a Shiatsu device with rotating heads.
Lymphatic drainage massage: This manual manipulation helps flush out fluid away from the affected joints. By doing so, inflammation may be reduced. Gentle strokes or taps are used to help lymph vessels contract, in an effort to eliminate the waste.
Thai massage: This is a combined method that utilizes traditional massage techniques with gentle yoga-like positions. It is also referred to as Thai yoga massage. If you have ever tried yoga before, you may feel at ease trying this form of therapy. With Thai massage, gentle stretching of the limbs may be performed in an effort to increase flexibility and improve circulation to the affected area.
Swedish massage: This method may be effective for reducing stiff joints often associated with arthritis. Swedish massage consists of combining gliding strokes with kneading action along the affected area. This may help stimulate blood flow and reduce pain and inflammation.
3. Natural Herbs and Applications
Ask your doctor or rheumatologist about the use of herbal supplements or topical applications for treating your arthritis pain and inflammation. Many herbs contain natural anti-inflammatory properties that may reduce your discomfort. Before trying any oral supplement, ask your doctor about possible side effects or interactions with other medications you're currently taking.
You might consider using the herb frankincense, either in an oral tablet form or as a topical ointment. Frankincense is a substance with natural analgesic properties, derived from the Boswellia tree. Studies show this substance has natural anti-inflammatory effects similar to that of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS). Additionally, it is not known to cause side effects.
As an alternate topical application, you may find relief in the use of natural aloe vera. You can purchase this as a gel in its pure form, or you may squeeze the extract from an aloe plant leaf. Simply rub the aloe juice into the affected area. Once or twice a day should be sufficient.
As a side note, use caution when considering complementary therapies or supplements to treat your arthritis. If you're pregnant, have undergone chemotherapy, have open wounds or existing medical conditions, consult with your doctor before attempting any alternate treatment methods.
For more information about these and other rheumatology treatment options, talk with an experienced arthritis specialist.