If you’re one of the millions of Americans with joint pain and stiffness, you most likely rely on some type of painkiller, whether prescription or over-the-counter, just to get you through the day. Unfortunately, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) come with some very nasty side effects, which we’ll take a look at in a moment.
Common Causes of Joint Pain
There are several different reasons people may experience joint pain and stiffness at some point in their life.
As we get older, we stop making as much collagen. Collagen is what builds the cartilage in our joints. When our collagen production decreases, joint pain and stiffness increases.
Arthritis or osteoarthritis can develop at any age, though instances of these diseases are typically seen in people over the age of 55. Arthritis leads to inflammation and the degeneration of joints, which leads to pain and stiffness.
Many athletes develop joint pain and stiffness from the repetitive movements of running. Other sports and hobbies (rowing, dancing, competitive weight-lifting) and jobs (manual labor, typing) can also put pressure on particular joints over and over, causing wear and tear in the joint.
Some other common causes of joint pain are:
- Poor posture
- Injuries, impact or trauma
- A sedentary lifestyle (sitting for too many hours per day)
- Autoimmune disorders that increase inflammation, such as Hashimoto’s thyroiditis or fibromyalgia
As I mentioned earlier, when most people experience joint pain and stiffness, they reach for pain medication in the form of NSAIDs. But these drugs come with some pretty nasty side effects.
Common Side Effects of NSAIDs
Most NSAIDS come with the potential for major and minor side effects. Major side effects occur with the gastrointestinal system. Many people are unable to tolerate NSAIDs because of abdominal pain, diarrhea and upset stomach. Some people may also develop a peptic ulcer from taking NSAIDs for any length of time. If not checked out, these people are at risk of developing serious ulcer complications such as bleeding or perforation of the stomach.
Common minor side effects of NSAIDs include:
Extreme weakness or fatigue
Serious side effects of NSAIDs may include the following:
Allergic reaction (difficulty breathing, hives, swelling of the lips, tongue or face)
Muscle cramps, numbness or tingling
Rapid weight gain
Black, bloody or tarry stools
Bloody urine or bloody vomit
Decreased hearing or ringing in the ears (also called tinnitus)
Jaundice (the yellowing of the skin and the whites of the eyes)
Now I don’t know about you, but that list of side effects would make me want to turn to alternative remedies. But do alternative remedies actually work for joint pain and stiffness? Yes, there are a handful of remedies that have been shown to be very effective.
Natural Remedies for Joint Pain and Stiffness
Hot and Cold Packs
One of the most traditional ways to relieve pain and inflammation is through the use of heat and ice. When pain and stiffness strikes, get yourself in a comfortable position and apply a hot therapeutic gel pack to the affected area for twenty minutes. Immediately follow up with a cold ice pack for another twenty minutes. Aim to do this every day, 1 to 3 times per day.
Many people have found relief from applying certain essential oils to those areas of the body that are stiff and painful. Peppermint, eucalyptus, frankincense, myrrh, orange and turmeric oils are absorbed quickly and get to work to reduce swelling and discomfort of joint pain.
While it may seem counter-intuitive, moving as much as possible will help your stiff and achy joints. Movement helps to lubricate joints, which reduces friction. Exercise also helps to keep your muscles nice and loose and relaxed. Tense muscles can pull on already painful joints, causing even more pain and possible injury.
Try to exercise at least three times a week and remember to always cool down and stretch at the end of your workouts. Also, don’t think you have to go at it hard for an hour. Simply walking around the neighborhood for half an hour can do a world of good. So can swimming and yoga.
And since we’re on the topic of exercise, it’s a good time to discuss the importance of losing any excess weight. Carrying around extra weight on your body frame puts excess and unnecessary strain on your joints. Even shedding a few pounds can ease your pain.
Change Your Diet
The Standard American Diet (SAD), which is loaded with refined carbohydrates and trans fats, causes inflammation in the body. And chronic inflammation is the leading cause of pain and disease.
By making some dietary changes and focusing on an anti-inflammatory diet, you can relieve a great deal of your joint pain and stiffness. Get rid of processed garbage and start eating whole foods like meats, eggs, some fruits and veggies. Omega-3 fatty acids found in foods like cold-water fish, chia seeds and walnuts are great for helping to lower inflammation in the body.
I mentioned that, as we age, collagen production goes down. Collagen contains 19 different amino acids, the building blocks of our entire bodies. Taking a quality collagen supplement can help your body build and repair cartilage in your joints.
Living with joint pain and stiffness is challenging, to say the least. If you use the alternative remedies, you can start to decrease your joint pain and stiffness and have a better quality of life.
Would you like to learn how to completely reverse your joint pain and stiffness? Pick up your copy of The Joint Pain Solution and find out how one doctor cured his arthritis and is helping countless others do the same.