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The pain, inflammation, and destruction of inflammatory arthritis can make it a difficult disease to control. Even with chronic disease medications and prescription or over-the-counter pain medications, many people continue to have residual pain. There are plenty of natural ways that may reduce some of the pain and inflammation you experience.
Avoid Anything Immune-Boosting
There are numerous supplements on the market that are geared toward boosting your immune system, such as echinacea, vitamin C, and zinc. Since inflammatory arthritis is caused by an overactive immune system, any effective immune-boosting supplement would only cause more pain and inflammation. Additionally, people with inflammatory arthritis typically take medications that are designed to suppress parts of the immune system. Supplements designed to increase the immune system could negate the effects of these medications. Skip supplements containing echinacea or other non-essential components. Limit your intake of vitamins and minerals that support or enhance the immune system to the recommended daily intake.
Support Your Joint Health
Although inflammatory arthritis and osteoarthritis are not mediated by the same process, some of the supplements used in osteoarthritis may be beneficial. For example, glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate may help rebuild cartilage and improve the integrity of the joint surface. Additionally, these supplements may help improve the surrounding soft tissues. Since the tissues in and around the joint have some ability to repair themselves, you want to promote as much rebuilding as possible.
Other supplements you want to include in your diet are ones that help keep your bones strong. Calcium, vitamin D, and trace minerals can reduce the incidence of osteopenia or osteoporosis. Weakening of bones is not uncommon when you have inflammatory arthritis due to the effects of inflammation on the joints, use of corticosteroids, and becoming more sedentary as pain and limitations become more of an issue.
Including herbs and supplements specifically designed to reduce inflammation in your diet can also help. One such option is turmeric, which can be found in the form of a supplement or used as a seasoning. The easiest way to include more turmeric in your diet is to drink a glass of turmeric milk when you need the added anti-inflammatory properties. Milk alternatives, such as soy or almond milk, especially those with added flavorings, can help offset some of the bitterness of turmeric.
It is best to add your turmeric to warm milk and stir it between sips to have a better mixture of turmeric and milk, since the turmeric will float on top. When you make turmeric milk, you must add a pinch of black pepper. Turmeric needs black pepper to help the body absorb it better. If you choose the supplement route, make sure your turmeric supplement also contains black pepper or the concentrated version, piperine.
Spot Treat Pain
Although you are trying to reduce inflammation on the inside, you need to find ways to reduce pain from the outside. One popular pain-reliving ingredient is capsaicin. This is the active ingredient in peppers that makes them hot. Many retail products, such as pain-reliving creams and patches contain capsaicin. When you are first trying capsaicin, it is best to use a cream or gel. This way you can control the amount you apply to a painful joint. Start with a small amount to see if you experience any skin irritation before covering a larger area.
Using creams or patches to reduce pain can be especially difficult with inflammatory arthritis. Often the joint is inflamed, and adding heat can make the problem worse. Conversely, many people also experience aching in their joint, which could be increased by cooling products, such as menthol. It is best to have two separate products on-hand, one with a warming effect and the other providing a cooling sensation. Alternatively, consider looking into soy-free pain relief supplements to help manage pain and inflammation.
With many herbs and supplements on the market, it can be difficult to determine which ones will help inflammatory arthritis. Reducing pain and inflammation while preventing increased immune system activity can help you find a good management strategy.