Joint pain is one of the most common problem adults are facing today. Only in the UK, around 20,000 cases of rheumatoid arthritis are registered every year, according to the Arthritis Research UK. Most of the people suffering from joint pain or arthritis rely on over-the-counter painkillers such as aspirin to manage the pain. However, with the advancement in the field of alternative medicine, there are now several natural and safer ways to prevent and treat bone and joint pain.
What are the symptoms of Joint Pain?
Latest research shows that one-third of all adults suffer from some kind of joint pain every month. The common symptoms include frequent pain in lower back, knee, neck, ankles, shoulders or hips. While some people only experience these symptoms after activities like weight lifting or excessive physical stress, others feel a constant aching in their joints which make it difficult for them to carry out daily activities. The severity of the pain can range of mild discomfort to stiffness and swelling in the joints.
Causes of Joint Pain
There are several causes of joint and bone pain such as osteoarthritis, gout, bursitis, strain, injury, obesity or tendons around the joints. Certain infectious diseases such as influenza, hepatitis or mumps could also cause pain in joints. However, arthritis remains the most common cause of joint pain in adults over the age of 40, according to experts at the American College of Rheumatology. Other causes of aching joints could be fibromyalgia, cancer, inflammation or breakdown of the cartilage in the kneecap and excessive physical activity.
Home Remedies for Joint Pain
1. Epsom Salt
We cannot stress the benefits of Epsom salt in relaxing stiff muscles and joints enough. It is a classic remedy to get rid of joint pain and tensed muscles. Epsom salts are high in Magnesium and sulphates which absorbs into the body and improves blood circulation, flush out toxins and reduce muscular spasms.
The best and easy way to use Epsom salt for joint pain relief is taking a warm bath with 2 cups of Epsom salt in it and soaking for at least 30 minutes.
To strengthen the effect of the remedy, you can add a few drops of eucalyptus or lavender oil in the bath. If you have swelling around the affected area, you may use peppermint essential oil.
EVIDENCE: Research has found that Magnesium block NDMA receptors that take signals to the brain that you are in pain. According to Amy Baxter, Founder of MMJ Labs and associate professor at the Medical College of Georgia, magnesium helps in reducing inflammation and in conditions such as migraine, asthma and stroke recovery, magnesium sulfate could be given through IV.
2. Hot Oil Massage
Massage therapy is helpful in soothing aching muscles and joints as it reduces inflammation by improving blood circulation.
For joint pain treatment, massaging with warm olive or mustard oil in circular motions and with gentle pressure can reduce muscular stiffness and bone pain.
EVIDENCE: Several studies were conducted by NCCIH to examine the effect of massage therapy and the results showed that massage helps in reducing chronic low back pain, neck pain and pain due to osteoarthritis.
3. Physical Therapy
Inactivity is one of the major causes of stiff muscles and joint pain in the body because it is responsible for putting added stress to knees, back and hips which could worsen arthritis and leads to muscle instability. Engaging in mild exercises such as walking, cycling and yoga helps in strengthening the muscles and reduce inflammation by improving blood circulation in the body.
EVIDENCE: Physical therapy and low-impact exercising helps in stabilizing the joints and providing strength to the muscles as it is useful is maintaining, and even losing weight, thus relieving pressure on the joints.
4. Vitamin D
The best way to prevent and control long-term illness and joint pain is to take a balanced diet. Joint pain is mainly caused by inflammation in the body which could be treated by consuming foods that are rich in Vitamin D, Omega-3 fatty acid and anti-oxidants. These nutrients are found in green vegetables, fruits, fresh water fish, milk, chia and flax seeds. Another excellent source of Vitamin D is sunlight.
EVIDENCE: Enough scientific evidence is available to confirm the relation of joint pain with Vitamin D deficiency. The Institute of Medicine recommends that an average adult should take minimum 600 IU Vitamin D every day.
Turmeric has been used for thousands of years to treat several illnesses. It contains a nutrient called curcumin, which has anti-inflammatory properties and is also an excellent source of antioxidants.
The classic home remedy to treat body and joint pain is mixing 1 teaspoon of organic turmeric powder in a glass of warm milk and drinking it every day for a couple of months.
For those who don’t like the taste of turmeric, taking turmeric supplements can also do the trick. However, you must consult your doctor before taking any supplements.
EVIDENCE: A study was published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine in 2009 in which researchers compared the effectiveness of turmeric (curcumin) to ibuprofen and discovered that curcumin was more effective than ibuprofen for relieving pain in patients with knee osteoarthritis.
Cayenne pepper is also beneficial in alleviating joint and bone pain. It contains capsaicin, a compound with amazing healing and anti-inflammatory properties.
To use cayenne for the treatment of joint pain and arthritis, mix two teaspoon of Cayenne powder in half a cup of warm coconut oil (do not boil). Massage the mixture on the affected area and leave to work for half an hour. You can do this 3-4 times a day for faster results.
EVIDENCE: A research study was published in the Journal of the Medical Association of Thailand in 2010 in which scientists established that applying gel containing 0.0125 percent capsaicin significantly reduced pain in women suffering from knee osteoarthritis.