Osteoarthritis is the result of wear-and-tear on your joints over the years and is the most common form of arthritis, affecting more than 30 million American adults. It often affects your knees or hips, making daily activities difficult to perform without pain and discomfort. If you rely on over-the-counter or prescription medications to alleviate your arthritis pain, Gregory Trakhtenberg, MPT, and the team here at Feel Good Physical Therapy can help you ditch the drugs and treat arthritis pain with natural therapies.
Osteoarthritis occurs with age or from injury
Your joints weren’t built to last forever, but as the average life expectancy of men and women has risen considerably from just a few decades ago, you may feel the effects of regular wear-and-tear as you continue to grow older. Or perhaps you suffered an injury playing a sport when you were younger. Age and injury both contribute to stiff, achy joints, with torn cartilage, ligament injuries, and dislocated joints as some of the biggest culprits.
As you age, cartilage surrounding joints breaks down and provides less cushioning for your bones, causing pain, tenderness, stiffness, and inflammation. Osteoarthritis most commonly occurs in your:
- Lower back
- Hands and fingers
Left untreated, you’ll most likely experience adverse symptoms, such as joint instability, decreased range of motion, and increased pain, even when you’re resting.
While so many Americans turn to pain medications for relief from arthritis pain, it doesn’t address the underlying problem, but instead, masks your symptoms. For long-term pain relief without dependence on drugs, natural therapies are a better solution.
Natural therapies can reduce pain and decrease inflammation in achy joints
Physical therapies and exercises can help you manage joint pain naturally, by relieving pain and inflammation. Physical therapy also helps increase range of motion and flexibility in arthritic joints, and helps you build strength. When you gain flexibility and build strength, you also increase joint stability, so for example, your knees won’t “give out” when you stand up after sitting for a long period of time.
At Feel Good Physical Therapy, the knowledgeable team works with you to prescribe the best exercises for your specific condition. They’re with you each step of the way, and help you build up endurance and work through exercises that are best suited to your capabilities at the moment you come in for treatment. It may not be easy at first, but being able to reduce your pain medications — or ditch them altogether — as a result of physical exercise, is worth the effort in the long run.
Additionally, other natural treatments that can help relieve arthritis pain include manual therapies like massage, osteopathic manipulation, and spinal manipulation. Often, these are a perfect complement to your physical therapy program.
Diet and lifestyle changes can reduce arthritis symptoms naturally
Since inflammation is a major component of degenerative joint conditions like arthritis, lessening the inflammation in sore joints is also a natural way to manage pain. According to the Arthritis Foundation®, avoiding foods that are known to increase inflammation, and eating others that have anti-inflammatory capabilities, can make a difference in arthritis symptoms.
Harvard Medical School lists foods known to reduce inflammation, including:
- Olive oil
- Spinach, kale, and other leafy greens
- Berries, cherries, and oranges
- Salmon and other fatty fish
And, on the flipside, foods to avoid that contribute to inflammation include:
- Fried food and most fast food
- White bread and other refined carbohydrates
- Processed meats
- Margarine and lard
As an added bonus, when you eat healthier foods to reduce inflammation, you also help maintain a healthy weight, which takes any added pressure off arthritic joints, and relieves pain. You may even feel better exercising as a result of making a conscious effort to eat right and lose weight.
A little bit of effort goes a long way
Sure, it’s easier to pop a pill when you’re in pain, but making the effort to exercise, eating anti-inflammatory foods, and putting in the work during your physical therapy sessions can mean the difference between becoming pain-pill dependent, or living a more holistic, natural life as you continue to grow older.
Learn how our caring, team can help you feel good, naturally. Call our office in the Sheepshead Bay neighborhood of Brooklyn, New York, for an appointment or book it online.