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Arthritis

About one in six Americans suffers from some type of arthritis. It is characterized by joint inflammation, stiffness, swelling and pain. Osteoarthritis, the most common form, appears in people over 40, especially in women, and usually gets worse if left untreated. Rheumatoid arthritis affects younger people, including children. This form recedes in about 70 percent of its sufferers as they grow older, and the rest are left to cope with it for years, possibly a lifetime. The following information is based on various materials provided by researchers, and does not presume to give medical advice. Be sure to consult your physician before beginning any therapeutic program.

Below you will find a list of helpful remedies and suggestions to help you with your arthritis pain. Just click the links below for more information on a specific topic.


HELPFUL FOODS

Salmon and other oily fish, such as sardines, halibut, to supply omega-3 oils.  Doctors advise getting omega-3 fatty acids from two or three servings of fatty fish a week.  And guess what contains lots of fish oil?  That  old standby, cod liver oil, which is also rich in bone-building vitamin D and inflammation-fighting vitamin A.  One teaspoon of cod liver oil a day should do it.  A word of caution:   excessive omega-3 increases the risk of bleeding problems, which can be hazardous for patients taking arthritis drugs that interfere with normal blood clotting.

Fresh green and yellow vegetables to provide beta carotene,  vitamin C, and other antioxidants to reduce cell damage.  Eat at least two servings daily.

Grapefruit and other fresh fruits for citrus flavonoids, substances  that are thought to increase the antioxidant effects of vitamin C; may have an anti-inflammatory effect.  Eat daily.

Peas and other legumes for zinc, a mineral essential for proper immune system function.  Other good sources include oysters, wheat germ and whole-wheat products, and milk.  Have at least one high-zinc food each day.

Ginger to benefit from its anti-inflammatory effects.  Eat one or two pieces of candied ginger or use 5g in cooking every 2 or 3 days.

Relief may be obtained by rubbing painful joints with a nonprescription cream containing capsaicin, an oil that is found in hot peppers.  Capsaicin is absorbed through the skin and reduces inflammation.


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LOSE WEIGHT

Extra pounds put stress on and cause inflammation and pain in your bones and joints.  Research shows that reducing to a normal weight may very well relieve most of your arthritis symptoms.

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EAT WITH CAUTION

Allergies to certain foods appear linked to rheumatoid arthritis, particularly those in the nightshade family of plants:  tomatoes, eggplant, potatoes, peppers and tobacco.  Experiment by removing these foods, one at a time, from your diet.  If your arthritis worsens and then improves after five or six days, you may indeed be allergic.  See a doctor for a more complete allergy screening.

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AVOID VEGETABLE OIL

Studies suggest that vegetable oils, which contain omega-6 fatty acids, aggravate arthritis symptoms.  Cut back on salad dressings, margarine, fried foods, olive, corn and canola oil.

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HEAT UP

Ease pain and increase circulation to your joints with a heating pad or hot bath.  Heat also helps when your joints feel hot.  A hot mud bath may draw out toxins and can relieve muscle pain.  Check a health store for mud preparations that you can slather on.  A similar substance called parafango combines mud and paraffin.  When you apply it, the paraffin hardens to keep the mud in place.  Relax under your mud for at least 30 minutes, take a warm shower, and top it off with a nice nap.

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COOL DOWN

Reduce joint swelling by soaking them in cold water or covering them with an ice pack or bag of frozen vegetables wrapped in a towel.  If you’ve overworked a joint – taken  too long a walk, for instance – put ice on it right away when you get home to avoid swelling.  Leave it on for 15-20 minutes, remove it for 10-15 minutes and repeat.  Continue for up to several hours.

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USE HERBS

Aromatherapy is an ancient Egyptian art rediscovered early in century by a French chemist named Rene-Maurice Gattefosse.  It uses essential oils as lotions, which are said to penetrate the skin to heal you.  Juniper oil relieves arthritis swelling, while sandalwood improves circulation.  A variation on this is an herb poultice.  Mash juniper or sandalwood leaves into a wet pulp and wrap them with a cloth around your sore joints.  Leave on for a few minutes.

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TAKE VITAMIN C

Research links rheumatoid arthritis to vitamin C deficiency.  Take a total of 500 mg. of vitamin C spread out in small doses throughout the day.

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MOVE

Exercise increases your joint flexibility, strengthens your bones and improves your blood vessels’ ability to move nutrients into your cartilage, and waste materials out.  The Arthritis Foundation recommends daily exercise.  Walking for short intervals, so as not to tire yourself, is very beneficial.  Water exercises are perfect.  Studies show, in fact, that the physical benefits of 30 minutes of walking in a pool are equal to those of many hours or walking on land.

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AVOID HEAVY-DUTY PAINKILLERS

Tranquilizers and sleeping pills may seem to help, but in the long run they can become addictive.  Take aspirin, ibuprofen or acetaminophen instead.

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MASSAGE THERAPY

A full-body  massage by a  professional is one of life’s greatest pleasures and a perfect antidote to arthritis stiffness and pain.  You can perform a quick spot massage on yourself, too.  For a sore knee, for instance, compress your thigh and calf muscles with the palm of your hand or your elbow, pushing down on the muscle for a few seconds, then releasing, resting and repeating.

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YOGA

Effective in relaxing muscles and improving circulation, yoga also improves your body’s efficiency in using arthritis medications.  This exercise gently flexes sore arms and shoulders:  tilt your head forward, roll it to the right, raise it up (don’t tilt it all the way back) and roll it to the left.  Repeat five times clockwise, then five times counterclockwise.  Follow this by raising each shoulder individually five times, then raising both together five more times.

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DE-STRESS YOUR LIFE

Researchers found that arthritic people tend to be self-sacrificing and sensitive.  Remember to take time for yourself – do things that make you laugh.  Take time to relax and be quiet.  Think good thoughts.  Good companionship helps one to feel loved.

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