Arthritis is a degenerative disease of the joints that causes pain and stiffness, making it difficult for people to move the affected joints. Arthritis can affect nearly any joint as the body wears down over the years. However, arthritis is most frequently seen in the knees and hands.

Arthritis can be treated by a variety of prescription medications that can reduce pain and inflammation, and these medications may certainly be necessary as the disease progresses. However, because most medications, including painkillers purchased over the counter, come with a host of side effects, many people prefer to stay away from them as long as they possibly can. Thankfully, there are several ways that people can ease their arthritis pain and inflammation at home, and these methods can sometimes help in stopping the progression of the disease as well. Consider these top three tips under the supervision of a physician.

Use Hot And Cold Therapy
Ice packs and heating pads have a long history of being used to improve aches and pains from muscle pulls and spasms. In much the same way, they can be successfully used to improve the pain and inflammation of the joints associated with osteoarthritis. However, if heat and cold are not used appropriately or safely, they can do more harm than good. Patients should check with their doctors or therapists for safety precautions, but, in general, these tips should work for most people. Heat can successfully be used to loosen stiff joints that feel painful, stressed and tight. Heat from a wet or dry heating pad can relax the surrounding muscles, tendons and ligaments and can make it easier for joints to move. Additionally, heat improves blood circulation. On the other hand, cold therapy should be used for joints that are hot and inflamed. A protected ice pack applied for up to 20 minutes at a time can provide a soothing, cooling sensation while decreasing swelling, which can cause pain and decreased mobility.

Try Water Exercise
Exercise is important for keeping joints limber, which will help to decrease the pain and stiffness associated with arthritis. However, the right kind of exercise is key to success. Weight-bearing and high-impact exercises, such as running or cardio aerobics, can create more pain by putting pressure on the joints. Individuals should choose low-impact aerobics, such as swimming or water aerobics classes. Water aerobics can even be done in one’s own backyard pool. Warm water is especially soothing to painful joints and can help people increase their flexibility in a gentle, safe way. Keeping a pool clean using spa chemicals will decrease the risk of infection while improving the appearance of the home pool or spa.

Ask About Natural Supplements
Numerous herbal remedies and natural supplements have been found to be useful for decreasing the painful symptoms of arthritis and for decreasing inflammation. Turmeric is a popular spice used in some Asian dishes that is now also sold in supplement form. It reduces inflammation and is generally considered quite safe when added in normal quantities to cooked dishes. Those who do not consume adequate fatty acids in their diets, such as from a diet rich in fish, may find decreased joint stiffness from taking a fish oil supplement. Other good options include cat’s claw, gamma linolenic acid and ginger.

As with all home remedies, these options should be checked with one’s physician before they are embarked on in one’s home. In particular, people with arthritis should check with a doctor about any natural supplements they wish to take because they may cause dangerous interactions with each other as well as with any other prescription medications that one may be taking. These tips have successfully solved the problem of pain for numerous arthritis sufferers.

Author's Bio: 

Emma is a freelance writer currently living in Boston, MA. She writes most often on education and business. To see more from Emma, say hi on Twitter @EmmaSturgis2