Pain and stiffness from arthritis can greatly affect your day-to-day activities. Some people find certain movements, such as climbing stairs or putting on their shoes to be quite painful. While there are certainly a variety of effective medications available for pain, many people with arthritis wish to seek alternative treatments to reduce their pain, and their need for medications. Below, we highlight some alternative treatment options for arthritis that may be considered.
Contrary to previous ideas, maintaining physical activity is key in managing the progression of arthritis. Although this may seem counterintuitive, maintaining an exercise program retains muscular strength and available joint ranges of motion which may, therefore, prevent stiffness.
If you want to incorporate exercise into your daily routine in an effort to reduce your arthritis symptoms, speak with your healthcare provider to determine if it is right for you. Once you have the go-ahead from your doctor, consider some of the following options:
- Low impact activities (walking, cycling, swimming)
- Yoga or Tai Chi
Occupational and Physical Therapy
When some of the simple tasks in your life become difficult or painful, occupational therapists and physical therapists can be a great resource when it comes to treating arthritis.
Occupational therapists can assist with various aspects of everyday life, from self-care to leisure activities, going to work and participating in sports. Treatments and strategies that may be recommended to you by an occupational therapist may include splinting, assistive devices, or simple strategies to ease the stress on painful joints and improve quality of life.
Physical therapists can help you get active and stay active with arthritis safely. Physical therapy focuses on the body’s ability to move, be it at home, at work or during sport and leisure activities. The goals of physical therapy for arthritis typically include maintaining and improving joint range of motion, muscular strength and overall body fitness to improved quality of life.
Both physical therapists and occupational therapists can offer an individualized treatment plan for arthritis pain to address your needs and improve your day-to-day activities.
Massage therapy can be an excellent tool in reducing pain, improving flexibility and reducing joint stiffness associated with arthritis. By improving flexibility in the muscles, joints and tendons, massage therapy can be very effective for patients with arthritis.
Depending on the type of arthritis, massage can have a variety of benefits. For rheumatoid arthritis patients, massage can improve blood flow, reduce swelling and improve quality of life. For osteoarthritis, massage can alleviate tension by improving flexibility and joint mobility. Read more information about how massage therapy can help with arthritis symptoms from the Canadian Arthritis Society.
Psychological Therapy and Mindfulness
Chronic pain, often experienced by people with arthritis, frequently exists in a circular relationship with negative emotions, each making the other worse. Studies show that people who experience more negative emotions experience more pain. Fortunately, various strategies can break this cycle and help people deal with both their emotions and their pain.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) teaches patients how to recognize and change negative thought patterns, thereby changing their perspective on their pain. CBT can help you develop skills to change the way that your body and mind respond when you are experiencing pain. This therapy focuses on developing positive coping strategies for dealing with your illness.
Mindfulness practices can be another effective tool for managing pain. Mindfulness practices such as meditation, yoga and tai chi help to focus the mind and redirect negative thoughts to reduce the impact of pain on the mind.
Learn More About Alternative Treatment Options for Arthritis
If you are struggling with arthritis symptoms and are looking for a fresh perspective, talk to your healthcare provider to see if one or more of these alternative treatments are right for you. For more information, visit the Canadian Arthritis Society website for resources and information.