With time and use, the joints in the body begin to wear down. Years of repetitive movements at work, exercising, everyday tendencies, different lifestyles, and medical conditions all have an impact on how well your joints will work and the amount of stiffness you experience. Joint stiffness and pain can be difficult to live with at times, but there are many ways to treat it. Here are five things you can do today to help ease your joint stiffness.
1- Hot and Cold Therapy
This therapy focuses on relieving swelling and inflammation which directly affects joint pain and stiffness1. Ideas for this therapy include:
- Taking longer-than-usual warm showers or baths
- Using electric blankets to help keep joints relaxed
- Wrapping ice packs in the affected areas (for around 20 minutes)
You can also try cryotherapy, a newer treatment consisting of cold temperatures that reduce the blood flow in your body which then reduces tissue swelling2.
Putting the right food into your body is essential for treating joints. Anti-inflammatory foods such as ginger, soy protein, cherries, and red grapes can help reduce the inflammation in your joints3. Supplementing with anti-inflammatory agents is also effective. These include nutrients like MSM, vitamin C, and bromelain—all potent anti-inflammatories that can help reduce inflammation and stifness. Fish oil supplements containing omega-3 fatty acids have also been shown to help lower your joint stiffness.
3- Massages/Physical Therapy
Massaging your joints is important as it can help reduce the stiffness and swelling. Meeting with a physical therapist to discuss a plan of exercises, stretches, and massages is a good way to start. A physical therapist can teach you several self-massaging tactics to implement whenever you feel pain. You can also visit a professional massage clinic weekly or as needed.
4- Weight Management
The heavier you are, the more weight and pressure your joints have to carry, especially on your back, knees, and feet1. Think of it this way: for every pound you lose, your knees will have four fewer pounds of pressure to carry3. Lowering your weight can be a huge factor in the total amount of pain and stiffness you feel. Not only will losing weight help you reduce the stress on your joints, but it can help prevent other future joint problems1.
Finding time each day to rest and let your body relax is a great way to let your joints heal. Doing this will let your body repair itself as well as replenish your energy2. Practicing meditation and mindfulness has been shown to lower stress levels1. When your stress is reduced, it is easier to rest and relax which in turn can lower joint inflammation and stiffness1.
If you are experiencing a high amount of joint stiffness, pain, and/or swelling, it is important to consult with a doctor about possible treatment options for your specific case.
1- Ellis, M. E. (2017, May 08). Natural Relief From Arthritis Pain. http://www.healthline.com/health/osteoarthritis/arthritis-natural-relief#Massage9
2- LaMeaux, E. (n.d.). 10 Ways to Relieve and Prevent Joint Pain. https://www.gaiam.com/blogs/discover/10-ways-to-relieve-and-prevent-joint-pain
3- Howard, B. (2016, March 17). 7 Ways To Ease Joint Stiffness That Really Work. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/7-ways-to-ease-joint-stiffness-that-really-work_us_56e06b78e4b065e2e3d476f9
4- Holl, K. (2017, March 27). Stiff Joints: Why It Happens and How to Find Relief. http://www.healthline.com/health/stiff-joints#bone-cancer7