Rheumatoid arthritis is a common autoimmune disease that causes severe inflammation of the joints. Affecting more than 200,000 people each year in the United States, RA has no cure and can only be managed by following tips and taking medication or supplements.
This disease can occur in a person of any age. However, those over the age of 50 have a much higher chance of being affected. A doctor will use lab tests and imaging to reach a diagnosis, and you will likely be referred to a rheumatologist to get the necessary help.
Early on in the disease, you may have noticed some tenderness and pain without redness or swelling. Further along in the condition, the symptoms change, however, and become more serious. The symptoms include:
- Swelling or stiffness in your joints that lasts longer than six weeks
- Joint stiffness in the morning that takes more than 30 minutes to subside
- Multiple joints affected
- Fatigue and low-grade fever
- Redness and swelling
Once you receive a diagnosis, you will often find yourself wondering what you can do to make the disease easier to handle. Luckily, some supplements that decrease arthritis pain.
7 Supplements That Decrease Rheumatoid Arthritis Pain
Try these supplements to aid in relieving the inflammation that comes from RA.
1. Turmeric Plus
Turmeric is an herb that helps with inflammation, and this supplement contains a high dose of it. The turmeric plus supplement contains turmeric powder, turmeric extract, and Bioperine. Even though the dosage is high, it is still suitable for mild forms of rheumatoid arthritis and is robust enough for more severe forms, too.
If this exact supplement cannot be found, other turmeric supplements will work, as well. Turmeric contains an anti-inflammatory property called curcumin, which specifically targets the joints. It may be successful in preventing arthritis pain, as well, so introducing it to your friends and family may be helpful to them in the future.
2. Oil Supplements
Fish contains high amounts of omega-3 fatty acids, so if you consume a decent amount of fish, you may not need the supplement. If fish aren’t generally in your diet, however, taking fish oil supplements can give you the omega-3 fatty acids that you need.
Fish oil is comparable to anti-inflammatory drugs that do not contain a steroid, otherwise known as NSAIDs. The benefit to the fish oil supplement, however, is that it is more gentle on your stomach than the anti-inflammatory drugs are.
This oil contains an omega-6 fatty acid that is called gamma-linolenic acid. It is an acid that eases inflammation and stiffness of your joints. Studies indicate that when supplementing with borage oil, those who have rheumatoid arthritis have been able to decrease the number of NSAIDs they were previously taking.
It is important to note, however, that borage oil can cause unpleasant side effects such as:
- pain from being gassy
- soft stools
Another name for Boswellia is Indian Frankincense, and it is known for its anti-inflammatory properties. Those properties are comparable to NSAIDs without stomach pain and offer a natural supplement to help ease arthritis pain. Scientific studies suggest that this supplement is one of the more successful supplements in treating RA.
4. Cat’s Claw
Scientifically known as Uncaria tomentosa, Cat’s Claw stops tumor necrosis factor, which is secreted by inflammatory cells and leads to the death of healthy cells. Powerful RA prescription medications also target the tumor necrosis factor, lessening the damage caused and are popular amongst those with RA.
Unfortunately, prescription medication is harsh and has unpleasant side-effects. The Cat’s Claw supplement, however, does the same thing as the medication and has less severe side-effects. It is also beneficial to your immune system.
This supplement is also known as SAM-e and has anti-inflammatory properties that act as a pain reliever (or an analgesic, if you’re looking for the scientific term). It can also encourage cartilage growth and acts as a neurotransmitter such as serotonin, which reduces pain perception.
A SAM-e supplement can help with the arthritis pain caused by RA more effectively than NSAIDs can and has significantly fewer side effects. The benefits also last longer than those of NSAIDs.
This supplement reduces substance P in the body, which is a pain transmitter. Studies have shown that it effectively reduces joint pain relatively quickly, and after just three weeks, can almost eliminate the arthritis pain. It comes in a cream, gel, or patch.
7. Avocado-soybean Unsaponifiables (ASU)
When you have RA, pro-inflammatory chemicals are released into your body at a high rate, causing much of the inflammation and pain caused by the disease. That problem leads to the synovial cells that line the joints deteriorating. With the ASUs, those cells may be able to be regenerated.
Studies done with ASUs and placebos have shown the beneficial results of the avocado-soybean unsaponifiables in regards to RA. The ASUs also drastically reduced the use of NSAIDs and, in many cases, stopped the need for them altogether.
7 Other Ways to Decrease and Prevent Arthritis Pain
1. Warm compress
Using a warm and moist compress on your joints when they feel stiff. This will help loosen them up.
2. Ice pack
When your joints are inflamed, an ice pack may help reduce the inflammation.
3. Relax or meditate
The more you stress, the more inflamed your joints will become. This stiffness is because stress inhibits the inflammatory process in your body. Spend time relaxing or even meditating to help lessen some of the stress and rest your body.
4. Stick to a well-balanced, nutritious diet
The foods you eat will significantly affect your RA. Try to find foods that have Omega-3 or Omega-6 fatty acids and foods that have protein and other vital nutrients. Avoid junk food, alcohol, or cigarettes because those all make the arthritis pain much worse.
5. Exercise regularly
Exercise helps increase joint range of motion, strengthen muscles, and reduce fatigue, all problems when it comes to RA. While you won’t want to over-do it and should avoid high-impact activities, exercises such as walking, stretching, water aerobics, and swimming are all excellent options. Remember not to over-do it, however, as you can exercise in 10-minute increments instead of all at once.
6. Take a hot shower or bath
Heat provides relief from the pain of RA, and moist heat is even more useful for pain treatment. By soaking in a warm bath or taking a shower, you are allowing the moist heat to ease the pain in your joints. If that isn’t an immediate option, soaking your hands in a container of hot water can help with joint pain in your hands.
7. Take it easy
When doing an activity, make it possible to stop if you need to. Do part of a chore or task at one time, and then go back to finish it up later. If necessary, give yourself a 3rd or 4th opportunity to finish up. This rule goes for activities such as cleaning, gardening, raking, drawing, sewing, or any other jobs where your joints may become sore.
5 Things to Avoid When You Struggle With RA
Before supplementing with anything that you believe will decrease rheumatoid arthritis pain, it is best to check with your doctor first. Some supplements may clash with other medicines that you are taking, while other supplements have side effects that are not worth dealing with. Additionally, there are some foods you should avoid and some activities you should be careful with.
1. Thunder God Vine
This supplement shows up on many online searches. And, while this does contain anti-inflammatory properties that will help with your rheumatoid arthritis, the side effects might not be worth it. The side effects include:
- serious respiratory infections
While salt may taste delicious on some of your favorite foods, it is terrible for your RA. It increases your chances of getting high blood pressure and causes inflammation directly related to RA.
3. Alcohol and tobacco
Alcohol should not be mixed with many medications (pain medications for sure), and you are likely on at least one of those medications if you have RA. Not only is the alcohol and medication combination dangerous, but alcohol also leads to inflammation. This combo causes RA flare-ups and severe pain.
Additionally, tobacco should be avoided as it increases the pro-inflammatory marker interleukin-6 (otherwise known as IL-6). This marker is normally high in those with RA and can exacerbate the symptoms.
4. Living a sedentary lifestyle
While rest is essential and important, too much rest can cause more pain, fatigue, and stiffness.
5. Skipping medications or supplements when you aren’t in pain
You may think it’s okay to skip them when you are feeling good, but that can have lasting negative effects on your body. Skipping the dose may make the pain come back quicker, ruining your time of feeling good and without pain. It can also cause your RA to get worse.
Final Thoughts On Seeking Out Supplements That Decrease Rheumatoid Arthritis Pain
Rheumatoid Arthritis is a serious disease that can greatly impact your daily life. There are ways to live with it, however, and you may not need as much prescription medication as you first thought.
By trying some of these supplements, you may notice a significant decrease in your arthritis pain and a lessened need for prescription drugs for RA. Just remember always to consult your doctor and tell them of any changes you decide to try.