Have you ever wondered why people often separate joint pain from arthritis the way we just did in the title of this piece? Aren’t they pretty much synonymous with one another?
Well, not exactly.
What Is the Difference Between Joint Pain and Arthritis?
Joint pain can occur due to the deterioration of cartilage. Cartilage is an elastic tissue that coats the ends of bones, thus enabling free movement. Over time, we’re all in danger of experiencing deterioration of the cartilage.
As said deterioration occurs, you start feeling more pain, more stiff, and less mobile. The condition results in a common form of arthritis known as osteoarthritis. But it doesn’t tell the whole story of what arthritis actually is.
See, you can have osteoarthritis from just the normal wear-and-tear of living. Arthritis goes a little further than that, however. It can affect you at multiple points in life, and while the elderly are susceptible to it, virtually anyone can get it.
There’s even a form called juvenile idiopathic arthritis, detailed here by the Arthritis Foundation. It can affect children of all ages, from infants to teenagers. In fact, there are around 300,000 that have some form of this arthritis in the US alone.
Since kids have a great deal more cartilage than older adults, that factor clearly is just one of many when it comes to understanding the disease.
How Arthritis Works
If you’re like most people, the form you experience is due to normal wear-and-tear. But each year, there are millions of diagnoses worldwide.
In the US, 40 million live with some form of it or around 12.5 percent of the entire country. Worldwide, the number is 350 million against a world population of 7.6 billion (4.6 percent).
Why are the percentages so much higher in the US? It’s likely due to dietary and lifestyle factors. The American diet is much higher in inflammatory foods.
We tend to rely more on medications than other parts of the world. And our lifestyles are considerably less active.
This leads to inflammation in various parts of the body, particularly around the joints. Back pain, neck pain, knee pain. We experience arthritis in our feet and toes, hands and fingers. It affects the shoulders, the hips, and the ankles.
You can even get it in the muscles — a form called myositis. According to the Arthritis Foundation, “people with myositis may have muscle pain, fatigue, difficulty moving limbs, the risk of falls or difficulty swallowing or breathing.”
Inflammation is the word to watch for, and it’s also what you want to target as you set about looking for home remedies to relieve not just your joint pain, but every symptom associated with arthritis.
Arthritis Symptoms Other Than Joint Pain
So now that we’ve drawn the distinction between joint pain and arthritis, what are some non-joint pain symptoms commonly associated with the disease?
Here are the major ones you will need to watch for, per the Mayo Clinic:
- Decreased range of motion
- Redness, particularly around the joints
Before moving onto the next section on home remedies, we should pause to say a special word about RA, or rheumatoid arthritis. This is the second major form of arthritis you may experience, and it tends to cause a lot more trouble than its osteo counterpart.
RA triggers the body’s immune system into attacking the lining of the joint capsule, which, according to the Mayo Clinic, is “a tough membrane that encloses all the joint parts.”
“This lining, known as the synovial membrane, becomes inflamed and swollen,” the site notes, adding the disease process “can eventually destroy cartilage and bone within the joint.”
RA reportedly attacks about 1 percent of the world’s population (or 76 million people), meaning the other 274 million mostly suffer from the less severe osteo variety.
But it should be noted that osteoarthritis is more than just annoyance, especially as you get older. Think of it. Activity levels are important to the quality of life as you age.
If osteoarthritis is severe enough, then it will discourage activity. Without activity, it’s easier for the body to break down and for slips, falls, and bone breaks to become more common (and life-threatening).
Point being: whichever form of this dreaded disease that you have, don’t take it lying down. You can fight back. See your doctor. Stay on top of promising medical developments as they arise.
And when it comes to dealing with the symptoms, see our next section!
30 Arthritis Home Remedies
No sense in making you wait. Let’s get right down to it.
1. Apple Cider Vinegar with Honey
What It Is: Three main ingredients of apple cider vinegar are apples, sugar, and yeast. It’s had a number of health claims over the years, including assistance with indigestion, hiccups, sore throat, and cholesterol.
How It’s Done: With arthritis, it’s often cited as a home remedy because of its potassium content. This reportedly prevents calcium deposits, which can contribute to joint pain.
2. Gin and Raisins
What It Is: Alcohol generally shouldn’t be your “go-to” for relief from pain, but we’ve heard this one used a lot from people who swear by it.
How It’s Done: Just pour the gin into a bowl of raisins until they’re completely covered. Then, allow the raisins enough time to soak up all the gin until it’s completely absorbed. From there, eat no more than 10 raisins per day and repeat as necessary when you run out.
What It Is: Originating in India, these physical, mental, and spiritual practices are designed to achieve balance in, you guessed it, mind, body, and spirit, through activity and focus.
How It’s Done: Yoga doesn’t have to be your religion. You can get many of the same benefits from it regardless of your belief system. Once you realize that, it’s easy to get more out of it because the poses and strength challenges are quite taxing (in a good way), and they have been proven to improve flexibility and strength — two things that keep you active and help you eliminate symptoms.
4. Check for Other Conditions
What It Is: Okay, this isn’t so much a home remedy, but it will color the effectiveness of the other 29 on this list by allowing you to know you’re addressing the right issue.
Arthritis and joint pain may share symptoms with other health issues. Knowing the cause allows you to properly treat so you don’t spend all your time chasing the wrong remedies.
How It’s Done: See your doctor about chronic (read ongoing) aches and pains to make sure it’s really arthritis. Never assume, especially when you have a problem that isn’t going away.
What It Is: Cinnamon sure doesn’t look like part of a tree, especially when it’s staring at you from the spice rack. But it’s actually a spice found in the Cinnamomum grouping of trees.
How It’s Done: Most people take cinnamon as a condiment or seasoning. It also may be used in teas. It is sky-high in antioxidants and has been linked to a number of health claims, including heart disease deterrent, diabetes fighter, better brain function and cognitive ability, and lowering cancer risk.
6. Willow Bark
What It Is: A grouping of trees known as Salicaceae is where you will find the willow tree. Willow bark is derived from these trees, and it has been cited in multiple studies as a possible treatment for rheumatoid arthritis.
How It’s Done: Willow bark may be harmful to children, so keep it away from juvenile arthritis cases. However, adults may see a great deal of benefit from it. Most prefer to take it as a hot tea.
7. Black Pepper
What It Is: A common household spice you usually use as a food seasoning. Black pepper also is said to have anti-inflammatory and pain management properties that are particularly useful with arthritis symptoms. It inhibits T cell activation and immune response as well.
How It’s Done: Tea, macaroni-and-cheese topping. Knock yourself out. Just keep the dosage to around two grams per day.
8. Green Tea
What It Is: Green tea is derived from Camellia sinensis leaves.
How It’s Done: Generally, green tea is not used as anything but a hot beverage. In the last couple of decades, it’s also taken off as a cold drink. Aside from its arthritis-fighting properties, one medical doctor told WebMD, “It’s the healthiest thing I can think of to drink.”
What It Is: A flowering plant used in Chinese restaurants as a palate cleanser. Ginger also has cognitive and medicinal uses for many. It’s been linked to healthy brain activity, nausea treatment, the fighting of fungal infections, and, of course, anti-inflammation support.
How It’s Done: Peel it, mince it, grind it up, put it in a tea or drink. You also can just chew on a raw piece of it.
What It Is: Belongs in the onion family. Both have a reputation for altering your body odor not in a good way.
How It’s Done: Due to the stink factor, you’ll want to do two things with garlic: 1) eat a moderate amount, and 2) take necessary hygiene precautions through proper bathing and dental care.
Also, many of the body’s smells are diet-related, so counteract garlic consumption with other foods that provide more support in this area. Garlic is usually used as a seasoning or to ward off vampires.
What It Is: Another flowering plant, this one belongs to the Zingiberaceae family (same as ginger). It has been linked to benefits such as arthritis support, boosting the immune system, and lowering the risk of heart disease.
How It’s Done: Tea, broth, powder, poultices, smoothies, in combination with honey as a gel or topical ointment.
12. Vitamin C
What It Is: Vitamin C is an ascorbic acid found in foods such as fruits and vegetables.
How It’s Done: The best way to get it is through your diet. In the last century, lack of it in the Western diet has led to a burgeoning supplement industry.
It’s great for combatting arthritis because it helps to create and maintain connective tissue, including bones, blood vessels, and skin.
What It Is: Flower buds of a tree in the family Myrtaceae, Syzygium aromaticum, and no, we can’t pronounce any of that. What we do know is it’s native to Indonesia, and it has been linked to pain relief, reduced inflammation, improved digestion, and even better sexual performance.
How It’s Done: Mostly taken as a spice in drinks and some dishes. Bonus cloves-related recommendation — Thai tea.
14. Inflammation-Fighting Foods
What It Is: Any food that won’t trigger your body’s immune system.
How It’s Done: Harvard Health lists the following as good anti-inflammation foods — tomatoes, olive oil, spinach, kale, collards, almonds, walnuts, salmon, mackerel, tuna, sardines, strawberries, blueberries, cherries, and oranges.
15. Omega-3 Fatty Acids
What It Is: A fat you’ll need to consume through foods and supplements. It has properties known to fight RA as well as triglycerides, depression, asthma, ADHD, Alzheimer’s disease, and dementia.
How It’s Done: Primarily derived from consuming fish, nuts, and seeds.
16. Avoid Foods That Agitate Allergies
What It Is: Allergy symptoms and arthritis symptoms share one thing in common — they’re brought on by inflammation. Foods that cause inflammation can trigger both.
How It’s Done: These include some dairy, some fish, and some nuts. And the tricky thing: what one person is allergic to, another may not be, so you’ll need to pay attention to the response of your body after eating these types of foods, especially since there’s some crossover with foods that are typically considered good for easing arthritis symptoms.
17. Spice Aromas
What It Is: See some of the individual entries on this list for examples of the types of spices that are acceptable.
How It’s Done: Instead of consuming spices (or in addition to), consider purchasing a mist diffuser. Pour some into the water and let the resulting scent filter into your room. Or, just infuse a small glass container with water and take a whiff whenever symptoms arise.
18. Wash the Dishes by Hand
What It Is: Exactly what it sounds like
How It’s Done: When you wash the dishes, you need hot water. That hot water can relax and sooth joint pain as it works to relax the muscles. This one obviously has limited scope, but it can be quite effective since many millions of arthritis sufferers find the symptoms most prevalent in their hands, knuckles, and fingers.
19. DIY Heat Packs
What It Is: Convenient way to soothe soreness and aches common to arthritis, especially if you have a box of rice in your cupboard.
How It’s Done: One sock, one Ziploc bag, however much rice you’ll need to fill up 2/3 to 3/4 of the sock. Leave enough room so you can reasonably close it through stitching or rubber band.
Stuff the sock in the bag. Don’t seal the bag. Microwave on high for two minutes (though times vary depending on how “hot” your “high” is). Remove the bag with great care as it will probably be hot. Apply to the affected area.
20. Cayenne Pepper and Olive Oil
What It Is: Cayenne pepper’s spicy reputation comes from a compound known as capsaicin, which has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
How It’s Done: Using 1/2 to one full tablespoon of olive oil, mix the ground up cayenne pepper in until the oil is fairly well-absorbed. Then, apply it like a paste to the affected area.
It’ll probably sting at first, but you’ll get used to it shortly and the pains and soreness will dissipate.
21. Chamomile Tea Poultice
What It Is: Chamomile is a plant in the Asteraceae family. It has several health claims linked to it in addition to anti-inflammation properties. Also used to reduce stress, ease period cramps, and lighten the skin.
How It’s Done: We suppose you could substitute chamomile for other tea-friendly spices on this list. Feel free to if feeling adventurous. To make the poultice, steep four chamomile tea bags in 8 ounces of water, covered, for about 10 or 15 minutes.
Once the time is up, apply the poultice to the symptom area. Wait until the heat has cooled off until it’s a level with which you’re comfortable.
22. Cold to Hot
What It Is: One container of ice, one container (tolerably) warm water.
How It’s Done: Have the two containers next to one another. Set a timer for 15 minutes. Submerge the symptom area into the container for a minute or two. Switch immediately to the other container for the same length of time. Repeat until the timer goes off.
What It Is: If you have a gym membership, a pool at your house, or one in the neighborhood/apartment complex where you live, this is a great option. If none of those stipulations pertain to you, see if your city has any public pools with limited traffic.
How It’s Done: The act of going into the water can be helpful, but you’ll want this to be a real exercise for maximum benefit. Swim back and forth in a lane if you can. It’s more strenuous, and it forces your bones and muscles to work out the inflammation.
24. Barefoot Walks
What It Is: Walk on the hard ground outside in either no shoes and socks or no socks and flip-flops.
How It’s Done: Helpful if you experience a lot of knee pain with your arthritis. That’s because, as Arthritis Care & Research observes, it reduces the load on the knee joint.
What It Is: Load up a playlist that relaxes you. Doesn’t matter what kind of music.
How It’s Done: The research suggests healthier results in patients who were allowed to listen to music through their symptoms than those who did not.
26. Eat More Spicy Foods During Flare-ups
What It Is: See black pepper, cayenne pepper, and any of the other especially spicy foods mentioned above.
How It’s Done: The spicier foods, contrary to surface logic, contain many antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties that are helpful in reducing flare-ups as you experience them. If you need an excuse to order the spicy, arthritis is a good motivator.
27. Increase Calcium
What It Is: Calcium is a chemical that helps in the strengthening and formation of bones. It reduces the chances of developing osteoporosis, which can agitate conditions like rheumatoid arthritis.
How It’s Done: You can get calcium from dairy and certain vegetables.
28. Get More Sun
What It Is: Exposure to the sun is a good booster of vitamin D, which is helpful in calcium absorption. (See No. 27.)
How It’s Done: Go outside. Take walks. Swim. Play in the park with your children or grandchildren. Walk your dog each day.
29. Take Supplements
What It Is: Useful for anyone who has trouble tracking the foods and drinks they consume each day. Not ideal, but necessary for a large group of the population.
How It’s Done: Popular ones include vitamin E (with pure alpha-tocopherols), glucosamine, chondroitin, fish-oil capsules, and ginger extract.
30. Spice Rack Rubs
What It Is: Anything on the spice rack that has antioxidants or anti-inflammatory properties.
How It’s Done: Follow the same steps you did with the cayenne pepper paste, using olive oil and whatever concoction or mixture you can come up with. You’re only limited by your imagination!
Arthritis and joint pain may not be life-threatening — at least not while the rest of your bones and muscles are still working — but it can greatly reduce the level of enjoyment that you have with your life.
Don’t make the mistake of thinking you just have to take it. A doctor can be helpful in getting you on the proper medications, but if you want to save money and need something more immediate to address the aches and pains, try this list out and let us know what worked for you.
Also, if you have any additions we left off, we’d love to hear them. Best of luck!