Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic inflammatory disorder that usually affects the lining of smaller joints like fingers and toes. With time, it can even affect the knees, ankles, elbows, hips and shoulders. Eventually, it can result in bone erosion and joint deformity.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Backention (CDC), in 2007, there were about 1.5 million Americans suffering from this disease.
It is more common in women than men. It is usually diagnosed in people over age 40, however, younger adults and even children can have it.
Other risk factors include family history, environmental factors like smoking, exposure to silica mineral and chronic periodontal disease.
Also known as RA, rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease in which the immune system mistakenly attacks the lining of the membranes that surround the joints (synovium). It is not known what starts this process.
Symptoms of RA come and go. When the body tissues are inflamed, the disease is active and leads to symptoms including muscle and joint aches, swelling, morning stiffness, and fatigue. When the tissue inflammation subsides, the disease is inactive and symptoms go away.
There is no known cure for RA. However, medicines as well as many home remedies can ease the symptoms and provide relief.
Here are the top 10 home remedies for rheumatoid arthritis.
Regular exercise is one of the first steps you need to take to fight rheumatoid arthritis symptoms. Exercise will help reduce fatigue, strengthen muscles and increase range of motion.
Plus, it will reduce the risk of developing osteoporosis and help fight depression, which can plague anyone coping with RA.
Three types of exercise are very helpful:
If needed, consult an expert about how to start an exercise program and which types of exercises to do and avoid.
Alternating hot and cold compresses can also help deal with symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis. While a hot compress will reduce pain by relaxing sore muscles and joints, a cold compress will dull the pain and reduce joint swelling and inflammation.
You can also use these compresses separately.
Note: Avoid hot compresses if the affected area is red, hot and irritated. Do not use cold therapy if you have circulatory problems.
Several studies show that fish oil also helps reduce joint pain and stiffness due to RA. Fish oil has omega-3 fatty acids – EPA and DHA – that have an anti-inflammatory effect on the body and can help reduce pain. Also, fish oil helps protect against heart disease, which people with RA have a higher risk of developing.
Note: Consult your doctor before taking fish oil supplements as they may interfere with certain medications.
To help fight RA symptoms, you can use turmeric. A study done in 2012 shows that curcumin, the active ingredient in turmeric, contains potent anti-inflammatory and anti-arthritic properties that work better than non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).
Turmeric can prevent joint inflammation by blocking certain enzymes and cytokines that cause inflammation.
Note: Avoid high doses of turmeric as it can act as a blood thinner and cause stomach upset.
Apple cider vinegar is also very effective in providing relief from many of the symptoms of RA. Being rich in minerals like calcium, magnesium, potassium and phosphorus, it helps reduce pain and inflammation.
Due to its strong anti-inflammatory properties, garlic is also recommended for treating RA. Garlic inhibits the production of pro-inflammatory substances known as cytokines, which helps reduce pain and swelling.
Also, it inhibits the formation of free radicals that can cause joint damage and promotes a healthy immune system. For rheumatoid arthritis patients, raw and fresh garlic is recommended.
Epsom salt is also considered a good remedy to ease rheumatoid arthritis pain and swelling. Being a good source of magnesium, Epsom salt regulates the pH levels in the body. This in turn reduces the stiffness, inflammation and pain in the joints. Also, it helps in bone mineralization.
In Ayurvedic as well as naturopathy, ginger has been used for ages to treat inflammatory diseases like rheumatoid arthritis. Gingerol, a compound in ginger, has natural anti-inflammatory properties that help reduce pain, inflammation and swelling.
When done properly, massage can relax stiff muscles and provide relief from pain due to rheumatoid arthritis. Massage will stimulate blood circulation, which is important to alleviate discomfort and inflammation.
You can massage the affected area 2 or 3 times a day for a few minutes each time.
Note: Avoid massage if your joints and muscles feel too tender.
Evening primrose oil, a kind of plant oil, can also help reduce pain and morning stiffness. This plant oil contains an essential fatty acid called gamma-linolenic acid that helps reduce the intensity of several symptoms.
Take 540 mg to 2.8 g in divided doses daily. Consult your doctor for the correct dosage as this supplement can interfere with certain medications.
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