14 Arthritis Home Remedies Even Doctors Strongly Recommend
You have a one in two chance of getting arthritis in your lifetime. Here are some doctor-approved ways to manage.
At-home arthritis relief
Arthritis is a group of painful joint inflammation conditions that cause symptoms such as swelling, stiffness, and grinding joints. It affects more than 54 million people in the U.S. Managing and treating the symptoms of arthritis at home is possible, according to the following doctor-approved remedies.
Put the fire of inflammation out with omega-3 supplements
“Research studies have shown that high-dose omega oils supplements containing EPA, DHA and GLA can help with arthritis pain, specifically by reducing inflammatory chemicals in the body.” —Susan Blum, MD, founder and director of Blum Center for Health and author of two books on arthritis.
Grill up a grass-fed steak
“Grass-fed or pastured meat has been shown in research studies to be significantly higher in omega-3 fatty acids, which can reduce inflammation. In addition, grass-fed beef is high in creatine, which can increase muscle mass in people with rheumatoid arthritis, helping to increase mobility.” —Ed Levitan, MD, Five Journeys
Take glucosamine chondroitin to rebuild joints
“Glucosamine and chondroitin have been shown to improve the cartilage surface within the joint and reduce inflammation. Seafood and organ meats are rich food sources or you can get it in supplement form.” —Megan R. Williams Khmelev, MD, osteoarthritis specialist and owner of Elemental Weight Loss Clinic, in San Antonio, Texas. Taking these supplements are great, but these other simple habits can also lower your risk of arthritis.
Pump up your immune system with probiotics
“Having a healthy gut microbiome is the key to having healthy joints. You can support good gut bacteria by eating plenty of cultured foods, like kefir and yogurt, along with fermented vegetables like sauerkraut. In addition a high-quality probiotic supplement can help.” —Susan Blum, MD
Meditate to relieve stress
“Most autoimmune illnesses, of which rheumatoid arthritis is one, flare up under stress so stress management is huge. I start my patients on meditation apps, in addition to telling them the importance of taking personal time to relax, have positive self-talk, and calm the ‘monkey mind’.” —Ed Levitan, MD.
Consider (legal) cannabis
“Cannabis [medical marijuana] has been shown to be an effective treatment of the pain of both osteoarthritis and inflammatory arthritis, and shows promise in modifying the autoimmune response in inflammatory arthritis. I have seen tremendous improvements for patients in pain control, stiffness, and increased mobility. Most importantly, I have seen significant improvement in reported quality of life.” —Jordan Tishler, MD, a Harvard emergency physician and founder of InhaleMD
Get some good vibes
“Whole-body vibration may sound ‘out there’ but research shows that people with rheumatoid arthritis [who used it] showed sustained improvements in functional ability, had higher bone mass at the hip, and had less fatigue. People can use vibration devices at home to decrease pain directly; using cold or hot packs can add additional pain relief.” —Amy Baxter, MD, CEO of MMJ Labs and inventor of VibraCool. These surprising lifestyle hacks can help you beat the back pain of arthritis.
Feel the (chili pepper) burn
“Capsaicin, the active ingredient in chili pepper, can be used topically over symptomatic joints to help ease the pain. It works in varying degrees in different patients. But watch out, it does burn a little when applied!” —Don R. Martin, MD, a rheumatologist with Sentara RMH Rheumatology
Spice up your diet with curcumin
“Curcumin is the active ingredient in turmeric, a deep yellow spice popular in curries. It possesses both anti-inflammatory and anti-arthritic properties and has even been found to be as effective as some prescription arthritis medications, but without the side effects. Combination supplements usually work best. I recommend a high dose (4,000-8,000 mg) quality fish oil with curcumin as part of it.” —Ed Levitan, MD. You should definitely be aware of these 8 foods that can actually trigger your arthritis.
Get some low-impact exercise
“Anything that causes mechanical stress on the joints can exacerbate arthritis symptoms. High-impact sports like running, football, or soccer can cause serious injury and contribute to arthritis. They are better replaced with low-impact exercises like cycling, swimming, or walking. In addition, exercise can help with weight loss, another factor that contributes greatly to arthritis.” —Jordan Tishler, MD
Take advantage of technology
“Arthritis of the thumb is the third most common type. There are a number of ergonomic modifications that can help the arthritic thumb to pinch without pain: Kitchen tools are available that decrease joint stress, mounted jar openers instead of manual twisting, saw handle knives instead of usual flat handles for cutting large objects such as melons, keys mounted in key holders, spring-loaded scissors, wider pens and pencils to avoid cramps while writing. The more you take advantage of these, the more you can rest your hand and the less pain you’ll have.” —A. Lee Osterman, MD, professor of hand and orthopedic surgery and president of the Philadelphia Hand Center. Plus, here’s the truth about arthritis and cracking your knuckles.
Go gluten free
“Eating a gluten-free diet may decrease signs and symptoms of inflammatory arthritis even in people who aren’t sensitive to gluten. Gluten can cause inflammation; eliminating it can reduce pain, stiffness, redness, and increase mobility.” —Anca Askanase, MD, rheumatologist and director of rheumatology clinical trials at Columbia University Medical Center
Get a massage
“Get a professional massage or practice self-massage at home. Make sure you’re targeting all the muscles, including smaller ones like those that move the thumb. This improves muscle circulation and helps decrease the spasm that arises from protective overuse.” —A. Lee Osterman, MD.
“Heating modalities such as warm compresses, paraffin baths, or warm soaks are simple, cheap, and readily available. They can help reduce stiffness and pain.” —A. Lee Osterman, MD. If you can’t find something to help the pain, here are some easy life hacks to make your arthritis less painful.
- Susan Blum, MD, founder and director of Blum Center for Health and author of two books on arthritis
- Ed Levitan, MD, Five Journeys
- Megan R. Williams Khmelev, MD, osteoarthritis specialist and owner of Elemental Weight Loss Clinic, in San Antonio, Texas
- Jordan Tishler, MD, a Harvard emergency physician and founder of InhaleMD
- Amy Baxter, MD, CEO of MMJ Labs and inventor of VibraCool
- Don R. Martin, MD, a rheumatologist with Sentara RMH Rheumatology
- A. Lee Osterman, MD, professor of hand and orthopedic surgery and president of the Philadelphia Hand Center
- Anca Askanase, MD, rheumatologist and director of rheumatology clinical trials at Columbia University Medical Center