Roughly 25% of adults in the United States have arthritis, and it’s more common among women than men.
If you have arthritis or stiff joints, you can make various lifestyle changes to support your joint health and soothe pain without medication.
A Joint-Healthy Diet
Chronic inflammation causes body tissue degeneration, so adhering to an anti-inflammatory diet will control swelling in your muscles and joints.
Here are some foods to include in your diet:
- Fatty fish like salmon, sardines, and mackerel are good sources of omega-3 fatty acids, which fight inflammation.
- Blueberries, blackberries, strawberries and raspberries are packed with antioxidants like ellagic acid and anthocyanins.
- Leafy greens like spinach, kale, and collards contain vitamin C and calcium, which boost bone and joint health.
- Like dark-colored berries, cherries contain anthocyanins that reduce joint swelling.
Exercises for Joint Health
Walking: Getting up and moving may not seem like the best solution to aches and pains, but exercise supports joint lubrication. Start slow and try 15-minute daily walks to improve your flexibility before working up to longer strolls.
Swimming and water aerobics: Working out in the water takes the pressure off your joints, so you can exercise without straining your ankles, knees, hips and lower back.
Strength training: Strengthening your muscles improves joint support and stability. Using resistance bands and light weights will boost your muscle mass without causing overexertion.
Range of motion exercises: Practice bending stiff joints to improve your flexibility. Flexing your joints will increase their range of motion and function and reduce pain.
Dietary Supplements for Your Joints
It’s important to talk to your doctor before adding any supplements to your diet to discuss possible side effects and interactions with medication.
Calcium: Your bones contain the highest concentration of calcium in your body. Strong bones mean strong joints, so supplementing your diet with added calcium can improve your joint health.
Vitamin D: The anti-inflammatory properties of vitamin D ease joint pain and swelling. Vitamin D also improves your body’s ability to absorb calcium.
Magnesium: This essential mineral contributes to good bone health, relaxes muscles and keeps nerve endings functioning properly. Magnesium helps mineralize bones and alleviates muscles spasms that can contribute to joint pain.
Ginger and turmeric: Both herbs contain curcumin, an antioxidant that reduces the enzymes that cause joint inflammation.
Topical Remedies for Joint Pain
Peppermint and eucalyptus oils: Applying either oil to the skin provides a cooling effect that soothes sore joints. Peppermint and eucalyptus contain menthol, which alleviates joint swelling and aching.
Epsom salt soak: This remedy contains magnesium sulfate, which eases joint pain and relaxes muscles. Add Epsom salt to a hot bath or soak a towel in a water-Epsom salt mixture and wrap it around sore joints.
Hot and cold packs: Alternate hot and cold compresses every 20 minutes to reduce joint swelling. Keep the affected joint elevated to decrease fluid retention as well.