To help with the prevention and relief of arthritis, prescribe a proactive plan for yourself. Take charge of your lifestyle and see where improvements can be made.

Acupuncture / Acupressure – Acupuncture or therapeutic ‘needle piercing” is the insertion of fine needles into the skin in order to stimulate targeted places in the body, referred to as acupoints. Along with the needles, the acupuncture practitioner also generally applies any of the following to stimulate the points; suction, friction, heat, pressure or electromagnetic energy impulses. The treatment goal is to stimulate the acupoints in order to balance the body’s movement of energy (qi) and restore health. Ask your healthcare provider for practitioner referrals or look in directories under holistic services.

Acupressure, also referred to as Relief with Fingertips, is similar to acupuncture, but uses the hands for healing technique instead of needles and other devices. Depending upon the afflicted area and type of arthritic condition, a combination of knuckles, fingers, thumbs and palm massage techniques are use in the surrounding areas. Note that traditional Chinese described four types of arthritic conditions that work alone or in combinations; wind, cold, heat and damp:

Fusion Arthrodesis for Arthritis

Fusion Arthrodesis, or bone fusion, is another optional procedure where the bones are fused together in order to prevent them from moving independently. This can be done two ways:

    1. Bone Grafting is the method of stimulating fusion between two bones by placing a small piece of bone, from another region of the body, in between. This small piece of bone encourages growth for the surrounding bones, thus fusing them in place.

    2. Implantation of a metal or ceramic piece, which is adhered to each of the two bones, using either screws or a special glue, thus preventing movement of the bones. Fusion is a common procedure and is used in conjunction with joint replacement surgery, which is more extreme of a procedure then bone fusion alone.

During a procedure called Ostheo, doctors can evaluate the injured tissue and eliminate any loose material with the use of instruments that are inserted into the joint through little incisions in the skin. During the procedure, the surgeon can observe any damage to the joint on a closed-circuit television, and further remove any loose growths that could be the origin of pain. This sort of surgery can often be executed on an outpatient basis, and typically involves a shorter recovery stage than open/inpatient surgery.

Relaxation and Arthritis Relief

The importance of relaxation in controlling and treating disease in general has only recently been recognized throughout the medical industry, yet its implementation still lags and the general public does still not understand its effectiveness.

Relaxation techniques, especially those involving meditation, have been seen as a bunch of “mumbo jumbo” for many years, until the findings of scientists and doctors that showed immense benefits to this practice became more prevalent.

Relaxation techniques have a definite place in the healing process of the body, and with arthritis the case is no different. With certain types of arthritis, the importance of relaxation is increased, since stress and emotional disposition play a large part in them.

Prayer is a form of relaxation and meditation if you are spiritually or religiously inclined that also works wonders. Either following a minister or someone else leading prayer, or formulating your own inspirational prayer, you can pull upon the comfort of God as you see him taking your pain away. Again mental and physical benefits are realized from such a practice.

You may also consider hypnosis as an option. Hypnosis is simply a guided meditation that allows you to access the power of your subconscious mind through a guide called a hypnotist, who is either a trained psychologist, psychiatrist, counselor, or social worker. Images of a man with a shiny gold stopwatch putting you under a trance to make you perform unusual acts or tell deep dark truths are more the scripts of Hollywood movies than what real-life hypnotism is. In the case of hypnosis for pain management, hypnosis is nothing more than an assisted guided imagery, such as described above. The only difference here is that you have someone to help you through the steps of relaxation and meditation on your image.

Arthritis Medications and OTC Painkillers

There are many over-the-counter (OTC) pain medications for arthritis pain sufferers that can be purchased without physicians’ prescriptions. Some are nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) – some are OTCs / some require a prescription, acetaminophen and various topical medications, covered in the very next section. Users need to be aware of possible risk from long term use or product abuse, though, and consult their medical advisors before and during use.

The most common OTC NSAIDs are ibuprofen, naproxen and aspirin. However, the misuse of some of these can cause blockage of an enzyme in the body that aids in the protection of the stomach lining and other areas.

Misuse can lead to stomach ulcers and bleeding, and liver and kidney trouble. (The same drug abuse issues can result from prescription NSAIDs, too). Use the right way, these drugs can help with pain relief, inflammation and fever reduction, and blood clot prevention.

Acetaminophen is the name of the active ingredient found in several well-known brand-name products; some Excedrin® products, Tylenol®, and Aspirin Free Anacin®. Although it does not help with arthritic inflammation and swelling, it can help with pain relief in mild cases. Use caution with dosages, however. Excess usage poses risk of liver damage, even death, especially for active drinkers (of alcoholic beverages).

Types of Exercise for Arthritis

There are three main types of exercises to include in a basic exercise program:

Range-of-motion exercises

These lessen stiffness and help with improving flexibility. “Range of motion” refers to the area within which the joints move naturally or on a daily basis. Although these range-of-motion exercises can be performed every day, it is recommended that they be done at least every other day.

Strengthening exercises

There are two types of strengthening exercises; isometric or tightening the muscles without moving the joints, and isotonic, moving of the joints for strengthening muscle movements. It is recommended to do these sets of exercises every other day, unless you are suffering from more than mild joint pain or swelling.

Endurance exercises

The objective of these is to increase stamina. They also help with improving your inner personal / mental strength and with improving weight control and sleep. Some of the most popular endurance exercises are stationary bike riding, walking and water exercising. And unless you are suffering from more than mild joint pain or swelling, a 20- to 30-minute workout or two to three short 10-minute bouts during the day is what is recommended, an average of three times each week. Be kind to your body, and it will be kind to you.

Daily Exercises for Arthritis

Even when you cannot make it out to walk or to an aquatics or yoga class, there are exercises you can do daily to improve flexibility, strength and conditioning.

You can flex your legs while sitting in a chair facing forward, simply by moving your leg outward while keeping your foot on the floor and holding it there for a few seconds, then retracting it until your foot is behind you, then alternating to the other leg.

Interlocking your fingers and slowly flexing your wrists to the left and the right for a few minutes a day can help tremendously to increase flexibility and reduce pain in the wrist area.

For your upper back, you can stand upright in front of a table, then lean over and place your hands on the table and tuck your chin back toward your collarbone. Once positioned as such, lift your upper back upward and simultaneously take a deep breath. Hold that position for 5-10 seconds and then relax while exhaling. While doing this, lower your spine slowly as you move both shoulder blades forward as if toward each other. Repeat this exercise for 10-15 repetitions.

For the shoulders and middle back, start again from an upright position standing as straight as you can, reach back and lock the fingers of both hands together. Breathe slowly and deeply and lift upward with your shoulders while at the same time, exhaling. Be sure to keep your chest up and your chin in. Repeat this for about 10-15 sets.

Exercises for Arthritis Relief

Exercise can be very beneficial for arthritis sufferers, often relieving stiffness in joints, strengthening muscles, thereby reducing stress on joints, keeping bone and cartilage tissue strong and healthy, and increasing flexibility.

A recommended 30-minute minimum of daily activity is the norm. Before starting any exercise program, it is vital that one speak to their doctor to ensure there are no unseen risks, however you will find that most doctors recommend exercise for their arthritis patients either on their own initiative or when asked.

The types of exercises suggested vary; however, with all types of exercise the warm-up is the starting point. Warming up is best started with applying warm compresses to the joints, followed by mild stretching. Range of motion exercises, such as dance, are a very good start, as are low-impact aerobics. These can relieve stiffness and increase flexibility.

Never discount the effectiveness of walking as an exercise. Walking is a great exercise to improve the arthritic condition, and carrying weights as light as one pound and using your arms as you walk can involve the whole body. The “trick” is to make walking interesting enough as an exercise to stay motivated. Try walking in different settings, alternating walking with dance on different days, and of course including a partner can be much more interesting than going at it alone.

Arthritis Dietary Triggers

There are many factors to consider with regards to arthritic diets and nutritional healing, and each factor may not apply to each individual. For example, certain people are allergic to specific foods, and these allergies can indeed worsen arthritic conditions. Ingesting foods that contain sodium nitrate or tartrazine can inflame rheumatoid arthritis, while ingesting foods containing a substance called hydrazine can contribute to systemic lupus erythematosus, an arthritic condition connected to lupus.

There is a rare type of arthritis called Behcet’s Disease, and eating black walnuts can cause flare-ups in people with this rare condition. So as you see, there is a variety of arthritic conditions and along with them a variety of foods that may trigger them. The best way to approach the situation is to examine each arthritic condition and tailor one’s approach based upon the specifics.

The term arthritis covers over 100 different diseases and conditions. Since it would be impossible to cover all of them in a work such as this, we will look at the most common conditions: rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, fibromyalgia, and gout.