Are you suffering from achy joints linked to osteoarthritis? You’ll be happy to know you might be able to walk it off, according to researchers at Northwestern University in Chicago. In their study published in the journal Arthritis Care & Research, they found that for every 1000 steps a person takes he or she can reduce knee pain and physical limitation by about 18%. They estimate that to be about one-half mile. And, the pain diminishes the longer you walk… to a point, of course.
The researchers explain that walking strengthens joint-protective muscles and encourages the release of pain-reducing chemicals produced by the body, helping to keep knees healthier and stronger.
It’s easy to stop walking and become more sedentary as joint pain settles in. But, simply being less sedentary improved physical function and reduced pain at the same time.
Unlike rheumatoid arthritis which is an autoimmune disorder in which the body’s immune system attacks its own joints, osteoarthritis is frequently the result of joint damage caused by injuries. The most obvious symptom of unhealthy joints is pain. Other symptoms can include: joint stiffness, buckling or instability, diminished function (reduced range of motion) of the joint, enlargement of the bones around the joint, tenderness when the joint is touched, heat or excess fluid in the joint, and/or deformity of the joint. If you are suffering from any of these symptoms you should get checked by your physician.
In addition to walking, wearing supportive and cushioning shoes of course, there are many great natural remedies that can help with the pain and healing of joint damage. Many creams or ointments are made with either arnica, a flower that has been used for centuries to cope with joint pain, or capsaicin, which is the natural extract from chilis and also helps provide topical pain relief. I’ve also used Topricin—a homeopathic cream—extensively with my patients with excellent results.
Other remedies that have a lengthy track record of assisting with joint pain and healing, include: MSM, glucosamine, the herb devil’s claw, ginger extract, curcumin from the spice turmeric, and Omega 3 fatty acids from chiaseeds, walnuts, flaxseeds, and fatty fish. Of course, not all of these items are needed. It may take some time and experimentation to find the combination that works best for you. Follow package directions for any products you try. And, as I always tell my clients, be patient. Natural remedies typically don’t work the same way as drugs which merely mask the symptoms. Natural options work from the inside out to help heal the joints. So give them a couple of months of regular use to see if they’re helpful.
For more information about arthritis and natural options, check out my e-book: Arthritis-Proof: The Drug-Free Way to Beat Pain and Inflammation.