Arthritis is one of the most common joint diseases in the United States, with nearly 50 million Americans diagnosed and with osteoarthritis as its most prevalent form. Osteoarthritis is a degenerative disease where the cartilage within your joints becomes damaged over time, and the synovial fluid that lubricates and cushions your joints decreases. This causes debilitating pain and joint stiffness.
People with osteoarthritis often turn to drugs in order to find relief. However, health expert Dr. Joseph Mercola warns against using these medications frequently. While they may be effective in providing temporary comfort for osteoarthritis, they are actually tied to several side effects and should be avoided.
Painkillers Will Only Add to Your Pain
Painkillers or opioids are one of the most commonly used medications in the United States. They are used to ease pain caused by surgeries, chronic back pain, or even joint disorders. Some of the most common pain relievers include morphine, codeine, oxycodone, hydrocodone, and fentanyl.
These drugs function by binding themselves to the receptors in your brain to reduce perception of pain. They can also induce a short-term feeling of euphoria, followed by dysphoria – the reason for drug dependence and addiction. This drives some people to take the drugs in higher doses to relieve pain or even combat withdrawal effects. Overdose of opioids can cause sedation, impaired breathing, and even death.
Another class of drugs frequently used to address pain is non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). However, NSAIDs are among the most dangerous drugs today, and some have been pulled from the market. Even the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warns against using them, as they are linked to cardiovascular problems, gastrointestinal risks, increased blood pressure, and kidney issues.
Acetaminophen (Tylenol) is another popular painkiller. However, this drug is regarded as the most common cause of acute liver failure among Americans.
The bottom line is, drugs do not come without risks and conventional treatment always involves these drugs. Dr. Mercola says that, while using these drugs to get rid of pain is completely understandable, there are numerous natural and risk-free painkilling options.
Relive Arthritis Pain Naturally and Safely
Studies suggest that having a diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids can help reduce the occurrence of arthritis. Omega-3 fats function as a natural anti-inflammatory by producing resolvins and protectins, compounds that help stop inflammation before they damage your tissues completely. In fact, they can help prevent a number of diseases.
Normally, you can obtain a significant amount of omega-3s by consuming fish. However, high heavy metal and mercury contamination levels in most seafood make this a problem. Dr. Mercola advises that unless your fish is lab-tested to be free of toxins, you should take a high-quality supplement like Antarctic krill oil.
Another potent anti-inflammatory is astaxanthin, a naturally-occurring carotenoid found in the microalgae Haematococcus pluvialis. Research states that this antioxidant may even be more effective in curbing arthritis symptoms than omega-3s. Astaxanthin is also more powerful than beta-carotene, lycopene, vitamin E, and other members of its chemical family in quenching oxidative damage.
Apart from the microalgae that produce it, other sources of astaxanthin include sea creatures that consume the algae, such as salmon, shellfish, and krill.
In addition to omega-3 fats and astaxanthin, Dr. Mercola recommends these natural anti-inflammatories to help eliminate joint pain:
- Ginger – Apart from reducing inflammation, it can also relieve pain and is beneficial to your digestive health.
- Bromelain – Found in pineapples, this enzyme helps stop inflammation.
- Boswellia – Also known as “Indian frankincense,” this herb is often used to treat inflammation and pain linked to arthritis.
- Cayenne cream or capsaicin cream – This cream derived from dried hot peppers helps decrease the body’s supply of substance P, a chemical component that transmits pain signals to the brain.
- Evening primrose, black currant, and borage oils – These are sources of the fatty acid gamma linolenic acid (GLA), which helps ease arthritic pain.
Inactivity Can Also Cause or Worsen Arthritis
Most people believe that movement can worsen arthritis, but in reality, being active can help reduce the severity of osteoarthritis.
In order to construct a comprehensive exercise plan, there are some factors you need to consider. Dr. Mercola advises reducing your workout intensity or choosing another type of activity if you find yourself in pain an hour after exercise.
He also endorses the use of assistive devices to lessen the pressure on affected joints during your workout. You may even want to consult a professional trainer or physical therapist to learn the best workout plan for you.
Make sure your exercise routine can help strengthen the quadriceps muscles at the front of your thighs. Instead of running, you’re more to benefit from non-weight bearing activities, such as swimming and cycling.
Dr. Mercola also says that if you exercise regularly in order to manage your weight, you will reduce your risk of developing arthritis. Exercising will prevent any type of joint pain from happening in the first place and reduce the need for you to use any drug-based treatment.