May is Arthritis Awareness Month. Let’s take some time to spotlight this widespread condition and look at how a holistic and natural approach can help manage its painful symptoms.
Arthritis can be one of the most life-altering and unpleasant common pain conditions. Caused by a swelling of the joints, it can range from bothersome to extremely painful and can be a hindrance to everyday activities.
Over 54 million adults in the United States are affected by arthritis. That’s one in four adults! Interestingly, it is more common in rural areas. Arthritis is the number one cause of disability in the United States. That means millions of people aren’t able to work or are limited in their ability to work, are missing out on life-enhancing activities and travel, and may be in near-constant pain due to arthritis.
Thankfully there are a multitude of ways to manage arthritis and the pain that so inhibits sufferers’ lives.
Acupuncture For Arthritis
When you consider that Traditional Chinese Medicine (or TCM) dates back over 3,000 years, it is easy to see the vastness of theory and history involved. This complementary medicine arms practitioners with a plethora of unique diagnostic tools. These tools include an ability to detect Qi imbalances, define the underlying problems and correct them.
Many clinical studies support acupunctures ability to be an effective treatment for arthritis. In addition to the increased production of endogenous opioid endorphins (the body’s natural pain-relieving chemicals), acupuncture is a great option to keep in mind to reduce swelling and increase range of motion safely, naturally and without harmful side effects.
“Motion is lotion,” you may have heard a physical therapist, chiropractor, or acupuncturist say. Movement can help reduce arthritic swelling and pain, and is a sure-fire mood-booster that can also help manage those conditions that are common in conjunction with arthritis. It’s important that people suffering from arthritis choose low-impact exercise and only engage in physical activity that feel safe. Some of the best low-impact exercise activities to help manage arthritis are walking, tai chi and qigong, gentle yoga, swimming and other water exercise, and biking.
Stress has a big impact on the body’s ability to heal itself, especially when it comes to inflammatory conditions such as arthritis. The pain of arthritis can also contribute to stress, creating a vicious cycle.
Making sure you are taking care of your mental and emotional health by making self-care time, getting exercise and outdoor time, and having a mindfulness routine can all help manage daily stress.
Eat for Joint Health
While there’s no diet that will completely solve or cure arthritis, there are so many ways to design food habits around inflammatory nutrition to help lessen painful symptoms.
Begin by limiting processed foods and saturated fats, as well as common foods that can stoke inflammation, like gluten, processed carbohydrates (like white bread), sugar, anything with high tannin like red wine and red fruits, and fried food.
Add fish, olive oil, nuts and beans, and fresh herbs like turmeric and ginger to your diet.
Following “The Mediterranean Diet” (a diet heavy in fish, olive oil, vegetables and fruits, and light on sugar, red meat, and processed food) to any degree not only helps reduce inflammation and ease arthritis, but it’s an overall health booster! The Mediterranean Diet and any plant-based diet has been proven to lower blood pressure, assist weight loss Lower blood pressure, and protect against serious conditions like cancer and heart disease.
If you suffer from arthritis pain and find yourself being limited in what you can do, give us a call!