Are you one of the 1.3 million Americans who have rheumatoid arthritis (RA)? This chronic inflammatory disease is a result of an autoimmune disorder, and researchers still haven’t discovered why would our immune system attacks the membrane linings surrounding our joints.
RA usually affects joints, especially fingers and toes, but it can also damage your lungs, skin, vision, blood vessels, and heart.
With time, it can affect your shoulders, hips, elbows, ankles, and knees causing joint deformity and bone erosion.
Women are more prone to rheumatoid arthritis than men. Even though it’s usually diagnosed in those over the age of 40, it can also occur in youth and children. Risk factors for this type of arthritis include genetics, exposure to silica minerals, smoking, and chronic periodontal disease.
RA symptoms are not consistent. You can feel joint and muscle pain and swelling, fatigue, and morning stiffness when the tissues are inflamed. However, when the inflammation subsides, the symptoms disappear.
Although rheumatoid arthritis is an incurable disease, there are some things you can do to relieve the symptoms naturally.
For that purpose, we present to you ten home treatments for rheumatoid arthritis.
One of the first things to do to relieve RA symptoms is to exercise on a regular basis. It’ll strengthen your muscles, relieve fatigue, and improve your range of motion. What’s more, it can help fight depression and lower the risk of osteoporosis – conditions that can easily affect RA sufferers.
Here are 3 types of exercise that’ll help you achieve that:
- Aerobic exercise – half an hour, 3-4 times per week
- Range-of-motion exercises – half an hour a day minimum
- Strengthening exercises – 2-3 times per week
You can consult an expert about the exercises you should do and avoid.
2. Hot and Cold Compresses
Alternating the application of hot and cold packs can reduce your RA symptoms. The hot compress will relax your sore joints and muscles, while the cold one will reduce joint inflammation and swelling. This, in turn, will reduce your pain significantly.
- To make the hot compress, wrap a hot water bottle in a towel.
- Use some ice cubes and wrap them in a thin towel for the cold compress.
- Apply the hot compress to the aching area for about three minutes. Remove and immediately apply the cold one for about a minute. Do this for 15-20 minutes, a few times a day until you get pain relief.
- Another option is to apply the compresses
Note – If the affected area is hot, red, and irritated, do not apply hot compresses. On the other hand, avoid cold compresses if you have problems with blood circulation.
3. Fish Oil
According to studies, fish oil is great for reducing joint stiffness and pain related to rheumatoid arthritis. It contains EPA and DHA – Omega 3 fatty acids which have anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving properties. Moreover, this oil reduces the risk of heart disease, and this is extremely important for rheumatoid patients as they have a higher chance of developing this disease.
- To reduce your RA symptoms, consume up to 2,600 mg of fish oil (with a minimum of 30 percent DHA/EPA) two times a day.
- You can also add salmon, tuna, or other cold-water fish to your diet.
- Note – If you’re currently on some medication, consult a doctor before taking this oil as a supplement. This is because it can interfere with certain drugs.
A 2013 study showed that the strong anti-arthritic and anti-inflammatory effects of turmeric’s active compound, curcumin, are more effective than NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs).
Turmeric can block certain inflammation-causing cytokines and enzymes, thus preventing joint inflammation. Here’s how to use it to treat your RA symptoms:
- Boil 4 cups of water and add a tablespoon of turmeric powder. Boil for ten more minutes and remove from heat. Let it cool before drinking. You can take it once or twice a day.
- Another option is to take it as a capsule supplement. You’ll need 500-1,000 milligrams a day but it’s best to consult your doctor first.
- As an alternative, you can include turmeric powder in your cooking.
Note – Don’t take high doses of turmeric since it can cause stomach pain. Also, don’t forget about turmeric’s blood-thinner properties.
5. Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar contains high levels of magnesium, calcium, phosphorus, and potassium – minerals that help relieve inflammation and pain. This is why it’s recommended for rheumatoid arthritis patients. Here’s how to use it:
- Mix one teaspoon of honey, one tablespoon of raw, unfiltered ACV, and half a cup of warm water. Consume the mixture once a day.
- As an alternative, you can rub some ACV on the affected area, followed by a warm castor oil massage. Then, use a cotton cloth to wrap the area, and finally, cover it with plastic to prevent staining. Do this treatment before bedtime.
Another natural ingredient for relieving pain and swelling associated with rheumatoid arthritis is garlic. It contains cytokines – substances that reduce pain and swelling.
Moreover, raw garlic prevents the formation of free radicals which can damage your joints and overall health.
- Consume one or two raw garlic cloves a day.
- Also, you can take it in the form of a supplement but consult your doctor about the correct dosage.
7. Epsom Salt
Epsom salt is rich in magnesium which helps regulate your body’s pH levels. This, in turn, helps relieve joint inflammation, stiffness, and pain. What’s more, it helps in bone mineralization.
- Fill your bathtub with warm water and add two cups of Epsom salt. Soak for about half an hour, three times a week.
Ginger is one of the most widely used herbs in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis. Its active compound, gingerol, possesses anti-inflammatory properties which help reduce inflammation, pain, and swelling.
- Massage the affected area with some ginger oil, and let it naturally warm by exposing it to the sun for around 5-10 minutes. Repeat this every day.
- Another option is to chew a few fresh ginger slices a day.
- You can also drink ginger tea or add this herb to your daily diet.
A proper massage will help relax stiff muscles and relieve pain related to rheumatoid arthritis. It’ll improve the blood flow, thus helping reduce inflammation and discomfort.
- Mix one cup of mustard oil and 10 grams of camphor. Heat the oil mixture until the camphor dissolves. Let it cool before applying to the affected area and massaging it in gentle motions.
- You can also massage the affected area with a mixture of warm olive oil and a few drops of lavender oil.
- Massage for a few minutes, 2-3 times every day.
Note – Don’t massage too tender joints or muscles.
10. Evening Primrose Oil
This type of plant oil can help relieve morning stiffness and pain in your muscles, due to the gamma-linolenic acid it contains.
- The recommended amount of this supplement varies from 540 mg to 2,800 mg a day. To determine the right dose, consult your doctor as evening primrose oil can interfere with certain drugs.
- Try to move your aching joints through their full range of motion at least once a day. However, make sure you don’t overdo it to prevent further pain.
- Rest whenever you feel tired
- Avoid doing activities that can strain your joints
- Don’t keep your aching joints in the same position for an extended period
- Discover the best way to use your body parts in a way that’ll not put extra pressure on your joints
- Make short pauses every hour when at work
- Include enough vitamin C, D, magnesium, potassium, calcium, iron, and omega-3 fatty acids in your diet
- Try to lose some excess pounds to help your joints feel better
- Consume a few fresh, frozen, or canned cherries as well as 2-3 cups of green tea every day
- To reduce the risk of further complications, you should stop smoking and drinking
- Other ways to control your rheumatoid arthritis pain are using techniques like deep breathing, guided imagery, hypnosis, muscle relaxation, and acupuncture.