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Arthritis --- Causes and Top 10
Natural Remedies

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Last updated October 3, 2016 (originally published July 16,
2012
)
By Louise Carr, Associate Editor and Featured Columnist







Did you know you can suffer from over 100 different types of
arthritis? What many people think of as one disease actually
encompasses a range of conditions. Arthritis literally means
joint inflammation – arth (joint) and itis (inflammation). The
common symptoms of pain, inflammation, and stiffness in the
joints are usually caused by
osteoarthritis or by rheumatoid
arthritis.

In total, 28.6 million Americans suffer from osteoarthritis or
rheumatoid arthritis, according to the Arthritis Foundation.
Arthritis is not simply a senior condition; children can suffer
from arthritis too – juvenile arthritis affects 300,000 kids and
teens in America.

Arthritis cannot be cured --- yet --- but its symptoms can be
eased. What can you do if you are one of the millions of
arthritis sufferers? Which natural remedies reduce stiffness and
pain and does anything slow the progression of arthritis?

What Are the Symptoms of Arthritis?

Osteoarthritis happens when the cartilage in your joint – the
part of the joint that cushions your bones as they move
together – breaks down. Your bones begin to rub together
which produces stiffness and pain and often difficulty moving.
Over time, osteoarthritis can damage muscles and ligaments
and you may need your joint replaced. You’ll feel the symptoms
of osteoarthritis in your hips,
knees and hands although other
joints can be affected.

Rheumatoid arthritis is an
auto-immune disease and an
inflammatory condition where your immune system attacks
your own tissues, especially the tissue that lines your joints.
This causes fluid to build up in the joint, which produces pain
and inflammation throughout the body.
 (Read more about the
rise of auto-immune  diseases in the US
.)

Rheumatoid arthritis produces a range of symptoms. You may
feel inflammation, pain and swelling in your joints, and
experience a decreased range of movement. If a joint on one
side of your body is affected you will likely feel pain in the joint
on the other side of your body too. Other symptoms of this full-
body disease include fatigue, loss of appetite and a low fever.
Rheumatoid arthritis can damage organs and lead to joint
deformity.

Who Gets Arthritis and Why?

The Arthritis Foundation says that, out of the approximately 28
million Americans who suffer from arthritis, 27 million of them
have osteoarthritis.

Primary osteoarthritis occurs as you age, although not
everyone suffers from arthritis as they get older. Secondary
osteoarthritis develops earlier in life as a result of an injury or
obesity. Osteoarthritis is more common after the age of 45 and
women tend to suffer more often than men, according to the
Arthritis Foundation.

No one is really sure why some people get osteoarthritis and
some don’t. Injury and
obesity – anything that puts extra
pressure on the joints – is linked with an increased likelihood of
suffering from arthritis.

For 1.3 million Americans, rheumatoid arthritis is a problem.
According to the Arthritis Foundation
, almost three times as
many women as men are affected by the disease. The condition
commonly strikes between the ages of 30 and 60. But the
disease can strike at any age - up to 300,000 children are
diagnosed with a form of rheumatoid arthritis called "juvenile
arthritis" each year. Again, experts are not sure what causes
rheumatoid arthritis. A combination of genetic and
environmental factors is most likely to be the culprit.

Arthritis can make it difficult to live a normal life – movement is
challenged and everyday activities become difficult and
stressful. Is there any way you can beat the symptoms of
arthritis and live more comfortably? We’ve looked at the recent
scientific research to find out which natural remedies help
arthritis sufferers.

Top 10 Natural Remedies for Arthritis





























1. Get Active to Ease Arthritis Symptoms

According to the Arthritis Foundation, moving is the best
medicine for fighting osteoarthritis. The Arthritis Foundation
says walking is one of the best activities for arthritis sufferers
because it reduces the pain associated with the condition.

You should remain active even if you feel initial discomfort
because exercise keeps the joints moving and lubricated, and
builds strength in your supporting muscles.

Physical activity also helps reduce obesity which is both a risk
factor for arthritis and a contributing factor to arthritis pain.

How much should you walk? A 2010 study led by Dr. Norman
Ng of the University of Queensland, Australia found that
walking 3000 steps a day, 3 days a week, can help ease the
symptoms of hip and knee arthritis. In the study, participants
also took 1500 mg per day of glucosamine sulfate.

Remember that for every pound you pile on in fat, you get four
pounds of pressure bearing down on your knees. So losing a
couple of pounds makes a big difference to your joints.

2.
Specific Hand Exercises to Help Beat Arthritis

Arthritis can affect the joints in the hand and wrist and make it
difficult to carry out a full range of movements. Arthritis
sufferers often find it progressively difficult to open jars or
packets, or to button clothes.

You can help increase your range of movement with hand
exercises – a six-week program of hand exercises improves
hand power and hand function in patients with rheumatoid
arthritis, according to a 2009 study from Halmstad University,
Sweden. Twelve weeks of hand exercises are even better,
according to the researchers.

Exercises to increase the range of movement in your hand
involve using a ball of putty and squeezing it, rolling it across a
smooth surface, and stretching the putty and shaping it with
your fingertips. (Read more about
how to make your hands
stronger.)

3.
Does Glucosamine Reduce the Symptoms of Arthritis?

Glucosamine is one of the most widely known and accepted
treatments for osteoarthritis but there is also doubt over its
effectiveness. On the one hand, glucosamine may reduce
symptoms and slow down the progress of arthritis. A 2001
three-year study by the Bone and Cartilage Metabolism
Research Unit, University of Liege, Belgium showed
glucosamine reduced symptoms in patients with osteoarthritis
in the knee.

A 2007 study from the Department of Joint Disease and
Rheumatism at Nippon Medical School, Tokyo showed
glucosamine was helpful for rheumatoid arthritis sufferers –
the study of 51 people found 1,500mg of glucosamine a day
significantly improved their symptoms.

On the other hand, recent studies have failed to find benefit.
So, the jury is still out but it seems glucosamine is worth
investigating.

4.
Avocado/Soybean Unsaponifiables (ASUs) for Arthritis

Extracts from avocados and soybeans are said to work
wonders against the symptoms of osteoarthritis. These extracts
are called unsaponifiables (ASUs) and in a 2001 study from
Erasmus University Hospital of Brussels, Belgium 300 or 600mg
of avocado/soybean unsaponifiables a day significantly
improved patients’ osteoarthritis symptoms.

Avocado and soybeans are also believed to hold a key to
slowing down the progression of osteoarthritis according to
experts including researchers at the Hôpital Léopold Bellan,
Paris, France (2002).

5.
Taking Fish Oil Benefits Arthritis Sufferers

When it comes to rheumatoid arthritis you can help reduce
your symptoms by taking fish oil (omega-3 fatty acids.)

A 1997 study from the Rheumatology Unit, Royal Adelaide
Hospital, Australia found omega-3 supplementation significantly
reduces painful arthritis symptoms and other studies have
suggested fish oil may help sufferers lower their dosage of
standard arthritis medication.

One form of omega-3 oil, in fact, is prescribed in some
countries such as France to improve arthritis. Krill oil is
extracted from the tiny shrimp-like crustacean found in arctic
waters. The form of omega-3 found in krill is wrapped in
phosphatidylcholine, which makes it easier to pass through the
membranes of your joints and ease joint stiffness. (Read more
about the
health benefits of krill oil.)

6.
Add Devil's Claw to Your Arthritis Treatment Regime

Devil’s claw is an herb that may be particularly useful for
treating rheumatoid arthritis. Taking devil’s claw supplements
resulted in a significant decrease in pain and an increase in
mobility for rheumatoid arthritis sufferers, according to a 1997
study by the European Scientific Cooperative on Phytotherapy
Harpagophyti radix (devil's claw), Exeter, UK.

7.
Does Acupuncture Help Arthritis Sufferers?

It seems acupuncture has a mixed review when it comes to
treating arthritis. Many studies have been carried out into
acupuncture for treating arthritis. One 2006 statistical review
of the studies and trials carried out by White A, Foster N,
Cummings M, et al concluded that acupuncture was an effective
treatment for osteoarthritis. A 2008 study by the School of
Nursing, Chang Gung University showed patients with
osteoarthritis of the knee experienced improvements in pain
relief and mobility when their standard care was supplemented
with acupuncture.

However, many studies have failed to find any benefits of real
acupuncture over sham acupuncture when treating arthritis. In
a 2006 study from the University of Heidelberg, Germany real
acupuncture and fake acupuncture were both better than no
acupuncture, but there was no significant difference in benefits
between genuine and sham. Are the benefits of acupuncture
for arthritis pure placebo?

8.
Take Cetylated Fatty Acids to Treat Osteoarthritis

A naturally occurring fatty acid – cetylated fatty acid – has
shown a great deal of promise as an arthritis treatment.
Cetylated fatty acids can be applied as a cream or taken orally
as a supplement and are said to improve the range of
movement in joints, improve postural stability and reduce pain.
A 2004 study from the University of Connecticut discovered
people with osteoarthritis of the knee who applied a cetylated
fatty acid cream over 30 days experienced greater mobility and
joint function than those that used a placebo. Increased
postural stability was also found in a 2005 30-day study from
the same university.

9.
Can Ginger Help Reduce Arthritis Symptoms?

Ginger may be what you need to treat osteoporosis, according
to a 2001 study by the Miami Veterans Affairs Medical Center
and University of Miami, Florida. This was a six-week study of
247 people who suffered from osteoarthritis of the knee. The
study looked at an herbal supplement containing a combination
of ginger and the Asian spice galangal. Those taking the ginger
supplement showed improvements in their symptoms.
However, this study only really shows the effectiveness of the
combined supplement and there is no evidence that ginger
alone is as effective.

10.
Comfrey --An Herb for Beating Osteoarthritis Symptoms

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Avocado and soybeans helps to ease
arthritis stiffness and pain.