Over years of wear and tear from daily life, your body’s joints will wear down. It’s a natural and normal process, but some factors in your life may cause this to happen at an accelerated rate. Joint pain isn’t something that’s easy to live with, because joint conditions can cause swelling, pain, and reduce your range of motion. These problems may keep you from enjoying your favorite pastimes and make even the most common daily activities difficult. Thankfully, there are natural remedies that can help you get back to doing the things you love and regain your independence.
What Can Cause Joint Pain?
Your body contains many joints in your knees, elbows, shoulders, hips, and hundreds of smaller ones. On an average day, they work so well that you don’t even notice them — until they start to hurt. To start feeling better, you need to get to the root of the issue. Here are some of the top causes:
- Sports injury: Being active is great for your health, but some forms of exercise can be hard on the joints. If you exercise regularly, you will experience joint pain at some point that’s caused by overuse or repetitive motions. That’s why some people experience elbow pain after tennis and knee pain after basketball. If you’ve recently injured yourself playing sports or exercising, you might have sprained a ligament or strained a muscle near the joint, both of which could be responsible for your pain.
- Inflammation: A condition called bursitis is when the small fluid-filled sacs around a joint become inflamed. Any joint that you move the same way over and over again can become inflamed, but the most common areas for it to happen are in the shoulder, elbow, and hip. Think back to see if you remember a time when you knelt for a long time on a hard surface, or were painting and moved your arm repetitively up and down a wall.
- Arthritis: Both of the common types of arthritis, osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis, cause joint pain. For people with osteoarthritis, the joint cartilage breaks down, which means the bones aren’t as protected and can rub against each other when you move. Rheumatoid arthritis, on the other hand, is a disease of the immune system, which attacks the lining of the joints and causes pain.
- Stress: Life is stressful. Work, family, social responsibilities, finances, and other stressors can exacerbate achy joints. This is because your body releases high levels of cortisol when you’re stressed out, which triggers inflammation in your body. That inflammation weakens and breaks down the muscles and bones. While stress is an inevitable part of life, you can manage your joint pain by finding healthy ways to handle stress. Consider adjusting your expectations of yourself, using supplements for stress, practicing meditation or yoga, or doing physiotherapy exercises.
- Other health conditions: There are many other diseases and health issues that can make your joints hurt, including lupus, Lyme disease, fibromyalgia, and hypothyroidism. If you have unexplained joint pain that doesn’t go away, talk to your doctor to find out what’s really going on.
Natural and Mindful Ways to Fight Joint Pain
- Massage: It may sound like a luxury, but for people with joint pain, a therapeutic massage can bring a lot of relief. The moderate pressure of a massage stimulates the nerves that are just under your skin, which signal the brain to reduce pain. Massages can also reduce inflammation and cortisol, which are both connected to pain. Just make sure to tell your massage therapist about any joint pain ahead of time so they know how much pressure to apply.
- Acupuncture: The ancient practice of placing needles on your skin to improve your health could be worth a try if you want an alternative therapy for joint pain. While more research is needed, some studies have shown acupuncture can reduce pain in people with osteoarthritis. In fact, a large review of all available studies on acupuncture found it reduced pain by around 50%.
- Tai chi: From the outside, this activity doesn’t look so serene — how can it make a difference? Tai chi is a combination of graceful movements made slowly, with deep breathing and mindfulness. But for joint pain, it can be just what your body and mind need. Research shows that tai chi can improve osteoarthritis pain equally as well as physical therapy; the participants who did tai chi also felt an impact on their depression and quality of life.
- Nature walks: When your joints ache, all you want to do is stay home and lay still. Every step you take seems to aggravate your painful knee and hip joints, but laying down at home is the opposite of what you should be doing. A walk surrounded by nature, like through a park or nearby woods, can be the perfect way to combat joint pain. The calming power of nature can reduce stress-induced joint pain and provide the environment for low-impact exercise, so you can be active without as much strain on your joints. By doing this for just under three hours each week, you could also lose weight and lessen the stress of your body weight on your joints.
- Natural joint supplements: Many people are wary of prescriptions and over-the-counter medications. If you prefer holistic medicine, consider natural joint supplements with ingredients from nature that have shown to reduce joint pain and inflammation, including turmeric and tart cherry.
Supplements to try:
If you regularly struggle with joint pain, it’s time to put your suffering to an end. Follow these tips to get back to the life you love.