Arthritis comes in many forms, yet this very common – and painful – degenerative condition can be debilitating for the 58 million people that have it.

1 However, arthritis is a general term used by conventional medicine for all types of conditions that affect your joints. 

Many people seek arthritis relief from over-the-counter pain medications such as acetaminophen or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), however these medications can wreak havoc on your gut. 

I’m here to tell you that there is natural arthritis relief without turning to NSAIDs or prescription medications. I will tell you about the many ways to get natural arthritis relief later, including one that was created as a natural treatment for rheumatoid arthritis – an autoimmune disease where your immune system attacks your joints. Let’s talk more about the different types of arthritis. 

Types of Arthritis

As I mentioned, arthritis is a general term used to describe joint inflammation. Conventional medicine puts any joint pain under this umbrella and treats the symptoms, not the root cause of those symptoms.. However, in functional medicine we look at the body as a whole instead of individual systems and seek to find the root cause of your symptoms.

There are three common types of arthritis: Osteoarthritis, gout, and rheumatoid arthritis. Let’s discuss the three types of arthritis and some of the key differences. 

Osteoarthritis

You are likely more familiar with osteoarthritis as it is the most common type of arthritis. It is often referred to as degenerative arthritis, or degenerative joint disease.

Osteoarthritis occurs when the cartilage between your bones deteriorates over time. While this can happen with age, it’s not a normal part of the aging process. Left untreated, the cartilage wears down completely, causing the bones to rub against each other causing painful inflammation, stiffness, pain, and swelling.2 Over time, the changes to bones between our joints can begin to affect your hands, knees, hips and even your spine.3

Your risk of developing osteoarthritis is determined by a number of factors including: 

  • Age
  • Gender – women are more likely to develop osteoarthritis
  • Obesity
  • Injuries
  • Genetics 
  • Bone deformities such as malformed joints or defective cartilage
  • Metabolic diseases including diabetes

The only tests for osteoarthritis are x-rays or magnetic resource imaging (MRI). As I mentioned, conventional medicine treats the inflammation with harmful medications and does not get to the root cause. However, in functional medicine, we know osteoarthritis is part of metabolic syndrome and a digestive issue, so it can be reversed by changing your diet to remove inflammatory foods such as gluten, dairy, and processed sugars.

My favorite natural arthritis relief for a healthy inflammatory response is Liposomal Curcumin. Curcumin has been shown to support a healthy inflammatory response and reduce oxidative stress. Curcumin is what gives turmeric its golden color, however, there is very little curcumin in most turmeric supplements. Your body also doesn’t absorb curcumin easily. Liposomal Curcumin tackles both of these issues. It’s made from the world’s most bioavailable curcumin, meaning it is easily absorbed into the bloodstream. It also contains a potent 500 mg of naturally extracted curcumin per serving… and it tastes great – like an orange popsicle!

Gout

Gout is a common form of inflammatory arthritis where uric acid crystals build up in the joints. Your body makes uric acid when it breaks down purines, chemical compounds your cells use to make DNA and RNA. Purines are commonly found in the food you eat, particularly meat and meat products. 

This form of arthritis is very painful and is typically found in one joint at a time, often the big toe joint.4 There can be no symptoms or your symptoms can get worse. This is referred to as a flare-up. Repeated flare-ups of gout lead to what’s known as gouty arthritis, a worsening form of arthritis.  

Symptoms of Gout

Symptoms almost always occur suddenly, and often at night. Common symptoms of gout include:5

  • Intense joint pain – Usually in the big toe, however, it also commonly occurs in the ankles, knees, elbows, wrists, and fingers. The inflammation is likely to be severe in the first 4 to 12 hours after it begins. 
  • Lingering discomfort – Joint discomfort after the most severe pain can last from days to weeks. 
  • Inflammation and redness – The affected joints become red, swollen, tender, and feel warm. 
  • Limited range of motion – You may not be able to move your joints as normal. 

Gout attacks usually begin with sudden shooting pain and can last for days or weeks, causing the 8.3 million people that have gout seeking relief. 

Testing for gout is pretty simple and can involve a blood test to measure levels of uric acid, x-rays, or ultrasounds. 

Conventional medicine treats gout with NSAIDS or prescription medications such as corticosteroids. However, there are ways to get natural arthritis relief from gout such as drinking more water and avoiding alcohol and sugary drinks. Both are toxic foods and can cause issues such as Candida overgrowth and leaky gut

Other ways to get natural arthritis relief from gout include changing your diet and getting more exercise. As I mentioned, purines are broken down into uric acid. By avoiding foods high in purines, such as red meat, and organ meats such as liver, anchovies, mussels, scallops, trout, and tuna, you lower the risk of developing gout. 

Rheumatoid Arthritis

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) affects more than 1.5 million adults in the world. This condition can affect anyone, however, it most often affects women between the ages of 40 and 60 years old. 

It is an autoimmune condition that occurs when the body’s immune system begins attacking the joints, mistaking them as foreign invaders. The body attacks the thin membrane surrounding joints, allowing fluid and immune complexes to build up and cause significant pain. Normally, these immune complexes filter out of your blood on their own, yet when there is a build-up, they tend to settle into different joints and cause local inflammation and tissue damage. When these immune complexes build up in the joints, they can cause the pain and swelling characteristic of rheumatoid arthritis.

Go Deeper

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) affects more than 1.5 million adults in the world and is an autoimmune condition where your body’s immune system attacks the joints.

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) affects more than 1.5 million adults in the world and, as mentioned earlier, is an autoimmune condition where your body’s immune system attacks the joints.

If someone in your family has rheumatoid arthritis or any autoimmune disease, then you are more likely to develop rheumatoid arthritis in your lifetime.  If you have already been diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis, you are three times more likely to develop a second autoimmune condition. 

Unlike osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis can be diagnosed by blood tests and a physical exam by your functional medicine doctor. 

Signs of rheumatoid arthritis include: 

  • Joint pain, swelling, tenderness, stiffness, and deformity in the joints of fingers
  • Fatigue
  • Unintentional weight loss
  • Nodules or stiff bumps under the skin
  • Frequent urinary tract infections
  • Fever

5 Underlying Causes of Rheumatoid Arthritis

If you suspect that you have an RA, the most important steps to stopping and reversing your disease are to identify the root cause and treat it. 

  • Gluten: Gluten is a big problem for most people and it’s in everything! Worst of all, it can wreak havoc on your gut and set you up for a leaky gut. Once your gut is leaky, gluten gets into your bloodstream and confuses your immune system into attacking healthy cells. I recommend everyone remove gluten from their diets. 
  • Leaky gut: Having a leaky gut is the gateway for infections, toxins, and foods – such as gluten – to cause inflammation that leads to autoimmunity.  You must heal your gut before you can heal any resulting conditions. Leaky Gut Revive® is my No. 1 supplement to soothe and repair your gut. 
  • Mercury: This heavy metal is capable of altering or damaging the cells of various bodily tissues. When cells are damaged, your immune system can mistake them as foreign invaders and begin attacking its own organs. Studies show individuals with higher mercury exposures have an increased risk of developing an autoimmune disease.
  • Mycotoxins: I discovered that many of my patients with autoimmune disease lived or worked in environments that have toxic mold. Toxic molds produce mycotoxins, which are volatile organic compounds (VOC) and can be toxic to genetically susceptible people.
  • Infections: Gut bacteria, such as P. cpori and P. mirabilis, can cause leaky gut, which is a frequent cause of immune dysfunction and inflammation. In addition to bacteria, the Epstein-Barr virus is also believed to be a potential trigger of rheumatoid arthritis. Oftentimes, the antibodies seeking out this virus mistakenly attack joint tissue, through a process called molecular mimicry. This allows fluid and immune complexes to build up in the joints, causing pain and inflammation.

Ways to get Natural Arthritis Relief

The good news is that arthritis, like many autoimmune conditions, can be reversed by following The Myers Way®. This proven approach is rooted in functional medicine, a medical approach that looks at how all the body’s systems interact and seeks to get them functioning optimally. Here are natural ways to treat your arthritis. 

Natural arthritis relief – infographic – Amy Myers MD™Natural arthritis relief - infographic - Amy Myers MD™ https://www.amymyersmd.com/article/natural-arthritis-relief/Natural arthritis relief – infographic – Amy Myers MD™

Remove Gluten From Your Diet

I recommend everyone remove gluten from their diets, however, it is especially important to remove it if you are suffering from arthritis because it is an inflammatory food! I also recommend removing all grains and legumes from your diet as well. These foods contain proteins known as lectins, which act as a natural pesticide for crops and can wreak havoc on the lining of your gut. 

Following an elimination diet helps you pinpoint which foods are triggering an inflammatory response. Changing your diet is the first step towards treating and reversing your arthritis naturally. 

Maintain an Optimal Weight

Carrying extra weight puts added stress on your joints, especially the joints in your knees, hips and feet. An extra 10 pounds puts 15 to 50 extra pounds of pressure on your knees. Losing excess weight not only improves mobility and flexibility, it can also help prevent future damage to your joints. 

Conventional medicine tells us that weight gain is the result of consuming more calories than you expend, or burn. If that is only the whole story. I do not recommend counting calories as a way of losing weight. It just adds stress and extra work for many people. Functional medicine takes a three-pronged approach of supplementation, lifestyle (exercise), and eating a nutrient-rich diet. 

Another one of my favorite and delicious ways to lose weight is by replacing a meal with a tasty smoothie. l love starting my day with a filling meal replacement smoothie including an added scoop of Paleo Protein for sustained energy to get me through my busy morning. 

If you are looking to shed those stubborn pounds my Optimal Weight Breakthrough™ Program is a functional medicine-inspired, step-by-step solution for healthy weight loss. I created this exclusive 30-day program to accelerate weight loss in just one month and set you up for sustained success.

Exercise

Though it might seem counterintuitive to exercise to naturally treat arthritis at first, including aerobic and resistance exercise training in your routine is one of the best steps you can take to strengthen your joints.

Studies show that the following types of exercise are best for treating arthritis naturally:

  • Water aerobics
  • Strengthening exercises, such as light weightlifting
  • Conditioning activities that strengthen your heart and lungs, such as bicycling, swimming, dancing, and brisk walking. I enjoy taking walks with my family. 
  • Yoga, which uses breathing and poses to improve flexibility and coordination, and reduce stress. There are numerous free yoga videos online. Namaste! 

The key to remember is that inactivity can cause mobility issues and worsen conditions such as arthritis. Any kind of low-impact movement you enjoy will be beneficial to your joints.

Cryotherapy

Would you step into a space the size of a linen closet where the temperature reached -220 degrees fahrenheit for 5 minutes? That doesn’t sound like a lot of fun, does it?  However, it might surprise you to learn that in 1978, a Japanese doctor named Toshima Yamauchi, developed this practice known as cryotherapy as natural relief from rheumatoid arthritis? 

The word cryotherapy literally means “cold therapy.” It’s basically a term that can be used any time extreme cold is used as a form of treatment. Conventional medicine has used cryotherapy for decades to remove abnormal skin tissue. 

Another common use of cryotherapy is cryolipolysis, which is the freezing of fat cells to break them down so they can be reabsorbed by the body. The fat layer is gradually cooled to temperatures between 30 and 39 degrees fahrenheit.4 You might know this type of therapy as cryoskin therapy or cool sculpting. I’ll talk more about that later.  

The modern definition of cryotherapy is what is seen today in popular culture as whole body cryotherapy, and it is extremely popular in the wellness industry because of how it helps your body and joints recover. 

Contrast Bath Therapy 

Cold water immersion therapy has recently evolved into a more complex form of natural arthritis relief.. Contrast bath therapy incorporates cold water immersion and hot tub therapy. Contrast bath therapy is where you alternate immersing your body into hot water at a temperature between 98 and 110 degrees fahrenheit followed immediately by cold water immersion (50 to 60 degrees fahrenheit). Most physical therapists administer this therapy by alternating three minutes in cold water and two minutes in hot water for 15 minutes total. 

Research suggests one of the benefits of this type of immersion therapy is that it increases blood flow, however it can also be used as natural arthritis relief. 

Hot water causes your blood vessels to widen and cold water causes them to narrow. This increases blood circulation. Furthermore, studies suggest that contrast bath therapy supports the lymphatic system, which helps speed up injury recovery. Unlike your circulatory system, the lymphatic system doesn’t have a central pump. By alternating hot and cold, the lymphatic system moves fluid out of the injured area such as a joint and creates a healthy inflammatory response.6

This process reduces swelling and kills foreign invaders.

Take a Bath in Epsom Salts

Many people turn to an ice pack or a heating pad to relieve their inflammation. However, a good hot bath is a great natural arthritis relief. After exercise, I love taking a detoxifying, relaxing bath with epsom salts. Epsom salts contain high levels of magnesium and sulfates which can help reduce inflammation, relax tense muscles, and reduce muscle spasms. I feel relaxed just thinking about it!

These minerals are absorbed through your skin, so adding them to your bath, or even making a compress applied directly to the achy area that is bothering you, can provide quick results. Take two cups of salts and add them to your hot bath water. For a compress, add two cups to a gallon of hot water, then soak a towel in it for a few minutes before applying to your skin.

Infrared Therapy

Heat is great for recovery, pain relief, and inflammation. However, infrared light can penetrate further down into the joints, muscles, and tissues, promoting circulation and blood flow. Good circulation is critical for proper healing. Red blood cells carry oxygen and nutrients to the site of strain or inflammation, which helps increase the production of healing white blood cells. 

And because many painful autoimmune symptoms stem from an overload of toxins, sweating them out of your system can help relieve that form of inflammation. And evidence shows that time in the sauna benefits people with rheumatoid arthritis.

I love getting in my Sunlighten Sauna every day for 30 minutes. If purchasing your own sauna is not an option, you can also receive treatments from natural spas that house their own infrared saunas.

Massage Therapy

Who doesn’t love a good massage? The pressure level is the key component of a restorative massage. Too light, and it is stimulating without improving pain. Too strong and you risk additional pain. When done correctly, either by a licensed masseuse or on your own with a massage gun, a massage relaxes your muscles and increases your flexibility, both important for relieving inflammation and reducing stress.

Support Your Immune System and Joints

Supporting your immune system is essential to optimal health, especially if you suffer from rheumatoid arthritis or another autoimmune disease. My three favorite supplements support your immune system and promote a healthy immune system response include: 

  • Vitamin D, which has been found to support your immune system. 
  • Omega 3 fatty acids, which promote a healthy inflammation response.
  • Glutathione, which is the most powerful antioxidant in the body and supports a healthy inflammation and immune system response. 

By taking these steps I know you can find natural arthritis relief and reverse it. Conventional medicine will tell you that it’s just a part of your life. I’m here to tell you that it doesn’t have to be this way. You don’t have to turn to harmful medications that can damage your gut. 

FAQ

https://www.amymyersmd.com/article/natural-arthritis-relief/

What are natural treatments for arthritis?

Supporting a healthy inflammation response is the best way to naturally treat arthritis. Good ways to do that is to remove inflammatory foods like gluten and dairy from your diet, exercise more, use infrared therapy, taking a bath in epsom salts, and with supplements such as collagen, vitamin D, glutathione and omega-3 fatty acids.


https://www.amymyersmd.com/article/natural-arthritis-relief/

What’s the difference between osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis?

Osteoarthritis as it is the most common type of arthritis. It is often referred to as degenerative arthritis, or degenerative joint disease. Osteoarthritis occurs when the cartilage between your bones deteriorates over time. Whereas rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is an autoimmune condition that occurs when the body’s immune system begins attacking the joints, mistaking them as foreign invaders.


https://www.amymyersmd.com/article/natural-arthritis-relief/

Is arthritis a normal part of aging?

While arthritis can develop with age, it’s not a normal part of the aging process. Left untreated, the cartilage wears down completely, causing the bones to rub against each other causing painful inflammation, stiffness, pain, and swelling.


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Article Sources

  1. How CDC Improves Quality of Life for People With Arthritis. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 2021.
  2. Diseases & Conditions: Osteoarthritis. Mayo Clinic. 2021.
  3. Diseases & Conditions: Arthritis. Mayo Clinic. 2021.
  4. Gout Arthritis. Mayo Clinic. 2021.
  5. Gout. Mayo Clinic. 2021.
  6. Contrast Therapy Does Not Cause Fluctuations in Human Gastrocnemius Intramuscular Temperature. Diana Higgins, ATC and Thomas W. Kaminski, PhD, ATC-L. . 1998.