Joint pain is a fact of life for many people. According to Arthritis Research in the UK, over 8 million people in Britain suffer from osteoarthritis, with nearly three quarters of those reporting constant pain. Additionally, around 10 million people suffer from persistent back pain; that’s over a quarter of the population suffering from joint pain of one form or another, and these figures are reflected in many other western countries too.
Fortunately, the ubiquity of this problem means that it has been quite heavily researched. As a result we now know more than ever before about ways to relieve joint pain. But how can you soothe sore joints without relying on artificial painkillers?
1. TENS Machine for Joint Pain
TENS is an acronym for “transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation”. As the name suggests, a TENS device stimulates nerves using electrical impulses. Such units are commonly used in many health centers around the world, but can also be purchased for private home use.
Scientific studies have found that TENS can be a very effective source of local pain relief for joints and muscles, though the effect tends to be quite short-lived, meaning that regular use is normally required.
The dosing can also have a marked effect on the pain-relieving benefits of TENS, with high frequency treatment seemingly being far more effective, and the results more long-lasting.
2. Fish Oils
Much joint pain is caused by inflammation in the joint, leading to swelling, reddening and discomfort. As a result, many doctors prescribe non-steroidal anti-inflammatories (often known as NSAIDs) to help relieve this source of pain. Interestingly, repeated studies on fish oils suggest that they can help to reduce inflammation in a more natural manner.
In tests, taking cod liver oil has been found to not only reduce swelling but also the duration of any stiffness experienced, especially in the morning. Some studies have even found that taking a supplement of cod liver oil may actually be just as effective as more traditional pain relievers, without the risk of unpleasant side effects.
Ginger isn’t just good to eat; studies suggest that it can also offer relief for sore joints. In one study, for example, 247 individuals suffering from knee pain were either prescribed ginger extract or a placebo.
The experts found that the knee pain felt when standing dropped considerably in those taking the ginger, when compared to the placebo group. Further analysis has suggested that ginger works by actually suppressing prostaglandins; compounds that mediate inflammatory responses in the body.
In doing so they seem to control inflammation and reduce pain.
4. Go Vegetarian
Time for a little science here. One of the routes through which inflammation in the joints occurs is due to a polyunsaturated fatty acid called “arachidonic acid”.
It is released by the body and is a major factor in the appearance of joint inflammation. Interestingly, many foods contain arachidonic acid, and studies suggest that eliminating these foods can help to naturally relieve joint pain. Foods that are high in arachidonic acid are mainly derived from animals; meat and dairy products have some of the highest levels, and should be apart of an anti inflammation diet.
Experiments in which sufferers of joint pain were migrated to vegetarian or vegan diets show “a significant improvement” in feelings of discomfort and overall joint swelling. It therefore follows that switching to a plant-based diet can help to soothe sore joints in many people, though the evidence suggests that it may take some weeks to feel the full effect.
5. Get Regular Exercise
It seems odd, but scientists have found that many people suffering from joint pain can actually benefit from exercise. Far from worsening swelling, it seems that any kind of physical activity has the potential to reduce joint pain.
There are a number of mechanisms proposed, but one of the most interesting is that regular exercise can help to strengthen muscles. As a result, they offer more support, reducing the pressure on joints such as knees and ankles. Studies suggest that almost any kind of exercise can be beneficial; from resistance training to gentle cardio. Even low-impact exercises like t’ai chi have been found to help some sufferers. The goal is therefore to find a physical pastime that you enjoy, and to invest time each week into it.
Not only will you increase the chances of reducing your joint pain but of course exercise offers all manner of other health benefits too.
As a final note, there are all sorts of natural techniques that can help to naturally relieve joint pain.
All the same, it is advisable to consult your doctor before considering any alternative therapies, just to be certain that they won’t negatively interact with any other medication being taken.
This article was provided by the nutritionists at Simply Supplements, who offer a huge range of different glucosamine supplements.