What is osteoarthritis (OA)?
Osteoarthritis (OA) is the most widespread form of arthritis. Some people call it a degenerative joint disease or “wear and tear” arthritis. It happens most repeatedly in the hands, hips, and knees.
With OA, the cartilage within a joint begins to break down and the underlying bone begins to change. These changes usually develop slowly and get worse over time. OA can cause pain, stiffness, and swelling. In some cases it also causes reduced function and disability; some people are no longer able to do daily tasks or work.
What are the signs and symptoms of OA?
- Pain or aching.
- Decreased range of motion (or flexibility).
Below are the best treatment for osteoarthritis in 2020.
Hot and cold compresses
When it comes to pain, hot and cold compresses may be very effective. They don’t result in long-term side effects that medications might. Heat is helpful for joint stiffness, and cold compresses are satisfactorily for joint pain.
Compresses can curtail muscle pain or spasms surrounding a joint. Making a compress can be as modest as using a warm or cold towel.
Epsom salt bath
Epsom salt baths can provide allover relief, primarily for joint pain. The magnesium in Epsom salt may help with inflammation and pain. You can buy Epsom salt from a drugstore. These baths are safe enough to take as often as you’d like for 30 minutes at a time. Use 2 cups of Epsom salt in a bath of warm water at a temperature of about 102°F (38°C).
Topical ointments and creams
You may want to try topical versions as an alternative to oral over-the-counter (OTC) medications like acetaminophen and ibuprofen. These gels and creams may contain aspirin or analgesics to numb the pain. You can apply them directly to the affected joints. These products can work well for areas that are near the skin surface, such as your knees.
Another topical home remedy is capsaicin. Capsaicin is a compound made from hot chili peppers. It works best when you apply it to painful joints three to four times per day. To avoid accidental eye exposure, wash hands after each use.
You may also want to try other ointments like Tiger Balm or horse liniment. Talk to your doctor before experimenting with any of these products.
Numerous categories of assistive devices can offer added support without the need for medications. The exact devices you choose depend on the affected joints. Options include:
- grabbing or gripping tools
- knee taping (be sure to have your doctor or physical therapist show you first)
- shoe inserts
Natural treatments are increasing in popularity for ailments like OA. Some people believe they may be safer since they have fewer side effects compared with traditional therapies.
Talk to your doctor about the following natural remedies. “Natural” herbal supplements can carry side effects and interact with medicines you might take. Always be sure to buy supplements from a reputable source.
Green tea: Anti-inflammatory beverage
Green tea contains polyphenols. These compounds may help reduce inflammation and the need for medications. One study in Arthritis Research and TherapyTrusted Source reported green tea increased cartilage protection.
Due to the risk of liver problems and side effects from concentrated amounts, green tea is best taken in moderation.
Ginger: Pain reducers
Oral ginger is also noted for reducing pain from OA. According to a 2015 study in Osteoarthritis and Cartilage, ginger taken long-term may even decrease the risk for OA-related disability. Due to the risk of side effects, the National Center for Complementary and Integrative HealthTrusted Source recommends using ginger moderately as a spice instead of supplement forms.
Read also:Ginger and garlic benefits to the body
The biggest risk to ginger overdose is the withdrawal indications. Ginger can cause upset stomach, diarrhea, and heartburn. It may also interact with prescription medications, like Warfarin, because it’s an anticoagulant (blood thinner).
Treats inflammation, pain, and stiffness
Curcumin is the active compound in turmeric. It’s is part of the ginger family, but may help OA in different ways. StudiesTrusted Source shows that the substance may fight inflammatory compounds. It may also help reduce pain and stiffness during an OA flare-up.
For the treatment of arthritis, the Arthritis Foundation recommends the following dosage options:
- capsules: 400 to 600 milligrams up to three times per day
- powdered root extract: 0.5 to 1 gram, three times per day
- If taking turmeric, you may need to add black pepper to activate the herb’s benefits. While turmeric is generally safe it can cause nausea and may interact with blood thinners.
For more long-term relief, lifestyle changes are often effective. Regular exercise, a healthy diet, and weight maintenance can help improve joint health and function. Over time, the muscles stabilizing your joints will strengthen and protect against damage.
Exercise can be difficult with painful joints. But staying active can reduce pain in the long run, and even strengthen muscles to prevent further joint damage. The Arthritis Foundation says exercise is “the most effective non-drug treatment for reducing pain and improving movement in osteoarthritis.”
The best types of exercises for OA use slight resistance, improve flexibility, offer an aerobic element, and are low impact. Options include:
- bike riding
- tai chi
Talk to your doctor before starting any new exercises, especially if you haven’t been active before. The Arthritis Foundation recommends 150 minutes of aerobic exercise every week at a moderate intensity. You can also start with shorter periods of exercise and add time as you get stronger.
For example, you could start walking for 10 minutes and gradually increase the speed and length of your walks. If you’re new to exercise, you may find slight pain after your workouts. This could mean you need to take a day or two off and then resume your workout regimen. Don’t quit exercising altogether.
Eat OA-friendly foods
Eating a balanced diet can help you feel better and lose weight. Research shows that certain foods are especially beneficial for OA.
- citrus fruits
- fish rich in omega-3 fatty acids (tuna, salmon, mackerel)
- garlic (contains diallyl disulfide, which may reduce cartilage damage
- green tea
- low-fat dairy products (calcium and vitamin D may promote joint and bone health)
- plant-based oils made from avocado, olives, safflower, and walnut
- aspartame (artificial sweetener)
- saturated and trans fat
- white bread
Maintain a healthy weight
According to the Arthritis Foundation, each pound of body weight puts the equivalent of three to six pounds on joints. Weight loss can go a long way in alleviating joint pain and OA prevention. This may also be helpful for people with OA in their knees and hips, as these joints bear a lot of weight.