Rheuma is derived from the Greek word ‘Rheuma,’ which means swelling. Rheumatism is a non-specific term for medical problems affecting the joints and/or connective tissue. It’s not a single ailment, but rather a term that is given to various/different problems linked with the joints and muscles, and bones and tendons. They are present all over the globe and have a huge impact on the health of a vast population. The more severe versions of rheumatism can lead to inflammation that causes joint and organ pain. It also leads to several co-morbidities or associated ailments. In this article on home remedies against rheumatism information has been given on easy available from the kitchen and medicine cachet for getting relief.
As a result, there are different types of rheumatism depending on body parts affected. Some of the common types are:
- Tennis elbow
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Frozen shoulder
- Cervical spondylitis
- Ankylosing spondylitis
Rheumatism is called as fibromyalgia or fibromyositis and is more prominent in the old/middle-aged population, but individuals from every age can be affected with this ailment.
Rheumatism is a sour sight and dreaded by all, not just for the reason that it is at times, fatal, but the fact that it jeopardizes the quality of life. The condition can be extreme fatigue, leaving you confined to the bed at times. If you have a supportive family and follow a happy but strict lifestyle, you can reduce the control this ailment can bring in your life.
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There have been mixed opinions and speculations among experts as to the cause of rheumatism and what could trigger the rheumatic attack. Despite various advances in medicine in recent years, little is known to accurately determine the cause. These include:
- Stress: If a certain joint is exposed to too much of pressure, then you can get rheumatism.
- Genetics: You may get this ailment because of heredity.
- Location: The environment you live in, can make you prone to this ailment because of climatic conditions.
- Diet: If you have food high in white sugar, acids, starch, fatty foods and red meat, then you can become affected with rheumatism.
- Hormones: Imbalance of hormones can lead to this ailment.
- Mouth infections: Infections related to the mouth and teeth have also been linked with the development of rheumatism.
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Back in the 14th century, people described their pain as ‘ flowing pain’. However, such description does not follow in the present century, but, people now can still relate to the description as ‘intense flowing pain.’
People diagnosed with a rheumatic condition may experience joint pain, muscle pain or both.
Pain is fairly caused by inflammation and is experienced to quite varying degrees. It may be characterized by stiffness of a joint or limitation of movement of the painful body part. This condition can affect from the smallest in the foot to the larger ones in the hip and knee or spinal area causing great pain in the neck and back.
This severely affects working capacity and functioning involving building and sustaining careers, child-rearing, and essential daily activities.
Other symptoms that are related to rheumatism are as follows:
- Extreme fatigue
- Numbness and tingling feeling in the arms and legs
- Pain in the abdomen that recurs
- Difficulty in swallowing
- Stiffness of muscles and joints
- Loss of sleep
- Soreness and swelling
- Irregular urination
- Eye pain
- Tender, warm, swollen joints
- Morning stiffness that lasts for hours.
Normally, early rheumatoid arthritis tends to affect your joints located at the hands first— particularly the joints attaching your fingers to your hands and the toes to your feet.
As progression of the disease takes place, the symptoms often get distributed to the ankles, hips, elbows, knees, wrists and shoulders. In some cases, the ailment occur on the same body parts.
Rheumatism signs and symptoms may fluctuate in severity and may even come and go. Periods of increased disease activity periods are called flares. It alternates with periods of relative remission — when the swelling and pain fade or disappear.
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Numerous research studies have been done on rheumatism and its counter approach. However, there has been no cure for rheumatism as such till date. However, that do not have to dampen your spirit, since with a regular balanced diet and exercise can assist a long way towards having a happy healthy life.
There is no known natural cure for rheumatism however, and home remedies and other methods can cure may bring about reduction in symptoms of rheumatism.
1. Evening Primrose Oil
Evening Primrose Oil is rich in polyunsaturated omega-6 fatty acids that can help control pain and inflammation. However, the effectiveness of EPO in reducing joint pain in rheumatism is not conclusive, but there’re some testimonials to which subjects reported improvement in morning stiffness. Although evening primrose oil consumption does not reorient the long-term disease activity, it is advised that you should not abandon your normal therapies.
What is EPO?
Evening primrose, biennial plant is native to North America but now available across the globe. The benefits of this plant are extracted from the seeds.
How Does It Work?
Evening Primrose Oil contains about 2–15% gamma-linolenic acid (GLA) and 70% linolenic acid (LA, which your body makes into GLA), which are actually different types of polyunsaturated omega-6 essential fatty acids. Gamma Linolenic Acid is vital for maintaining cell structure and function of a joint. The human body makes it into prostaglandins (hormone-like substances), which regulates the immune system and fights joint inflammation such as rheumatism. Gamma Linolenic Acid might also suppress inflammatory responses by directly acting on some inflamed cells.
Not Good, If:
Although no safe recommended dose has been found for the use in musculoskeletal conditions, trials have used a standard use of 6g ( 540mg of GLA). If taken in correct doses, evening primrose oil does not pose any major safety problems. If you suffer from epilepsy, you should refrain from taking EPO because it can cause seizures.
Traditional healing practices use turmeric to treat many ailments, including arthritis, stomach problems, poor circulation, and skin diseases. Turmeric is mixed with liquids (mostly water), made into a paste or ointment, or burned for the patient to inhale. Turmeric contains about 100 different properties that prove for its long-lived success.
Take one tablespoon of turmeric and an equal amount of water.
Mix them to form a paste.
You can have this mixture three times in a day; after breakfast, lunch and dinner.
You can also add turmeric to soups, recipes as part of your regular diet.
How Does It Work?
Modern research shows that turmeric has a special compound called ‘Curcumin.’ Its an active ingredient, which acts as an anti-inflammatory. Inflammation is caused by certain enzymes and cytokines. Turmeric just blocks these enzymes and cytokines. It is so powerful that it seems to have an immune system-modifying effect too. It stops the body from producing a special antibody called tumor necrosis factor (TNF). Even though turmeric is shown to prevent joint swelling rather than reducing it, there is much more research needed to furnish that fact.
Not Good, If:
You might not want to take turmeric if you are taking medications for the following conditions:
o Blood thinners
3. Bitter Gourd Juice And Honey
Known for its great anti-toxicant properties, if mixed with honey, and taken for twice a day, the mixture has been known to significantly reduce the symptoms of rheumatism.
You can slice half a bitter gourd and make juice with a blender.
Add two tablespoons of honey to the juice.
Consume for thrice a day for three months and maintain a strict diet regimen according to the instructions of the physician.
How Does It Work?
It has low calories, but abundant in phytonutrients like minerals, vitamins, anti-oxidants and dietary fiber. It contains polypeptide-P and hypoglycemic agent called as charantin; useful for diabetes patients.
A fresh bitter melon contains abundant resources of Vitamin C which acts as an antioxidant and eliminates free radicals from the body preventing rheumatism. Also, it contains flavonoids such as a-carotene, zeaxanthin, lutein and beta-carotene along with Vitamin A.
There is an old proverb that states, “If your digestive system is secure, so will the body be in good healthy condition.”If you suffer from indigestion, gastric ulcers, and stomach pain, you would not be able to concentrate on your daily activities.
Cellulose, the good source of fiber is present in bitter gourd that prevents constipation, thus assisting in digestion. The digestive process becomes secure, more bile juices are released into the inner intestine for metabolism of fats. This is how, the symptoms of rheumatism are reduced due to ingestion of bitter gourd.
Not Good, If:
If you are pregnant. You can suffer from menstrual bleeding and surveys have pointed to abortion in animals.
If you are diabetic. Refrain from taking bitter gourd if you are under medication to lower the blood sugar.
If you plan to undergo surgery. Bitter gourd might interfere with blood sugar control before and after surgery. It is advisable to stop usage two weeks before surgery.
If you have liver problems. Seek the advice of your physician before you opt for this method.
In ancient times, it was the custom for ladies in Great Britain to carry two or three potatoes in their pockets as a remedy against rheumatism if they were traveling long distances. Ladies had, in their dresses, specially stitched bags or pockets for carrying potatoes.
In recent times, potato therapy has been considered as one of the successful alternate treatment for rheumatism. In folklore, it has been used for centuries.
You can cut a medium size potato into thin slices, but without taking the skin off.
Mix the slices with two tablespoons of honey and consume every morning before having breakfast.
Drink the mixture 3 times a day to get faster results.
You can keep the slices of potato in a jar filled with water before going to bed. The next morning, you can drink the mixture.
How Does It Work?
The skin of the potato contain vital salts and reduce the acidic condition in the stomach which can contribute to rheumatism. Besides containing minerals, Vitamin C, fiber, the peels contain rich sources of potassium. The potassium and other vital salts dissolve lime and uric acid in the stomach thus preventing formation of acidity levels. Also, the potatoes contain phytonutrients such as caffeic acid, flavonoids and carotenoids.
Not Good, If:
The potato has sprouts. According to a survey, stems, leaves, sprouts, branches of potatoes are toxic containing alkaloids such as solanine, chaconine and arsenic.
You should refrain from eating green potatoes.
5. Apple Cider Vinegar And Honey
Considered as one among the super foods of Mother Nature, the powerful enzymes and minerals are found beneficial in reducing the symptoms of different joint, digestive and joint problems. There are many individuals who drink ACV on regular basis daily to get comfort from stiffness in the joints. Kindly note that the best ACV should be unpasteurized, undistilled, organic and pure – in fact, it should be called the ‘mother.’
You can take two tablespoons of apple cider vinegar and pure, unfiltered honey and mix them in warm water.
Consume them to get temporary relief from symptoms of rheumatism.
How Does It Work?
The essential nutrients are sulfur, potassium, phosphorus, natural sodium, silicon, fluorine, iron and copper. The important acids present in apple cider vinegar are lactic acid, acetic acid and malic acid. These acids have the ability to balance the acid levels in the digestive system, thereby preventing bacteria growth and in the process improving digestion. During the metabolic cycle, malic acid is produced in the body and assists in maintaining the normal acidity/alkaline condition of the stomach.
If your body suffers from low potassium, the symptoms can be muscle cramps and joint stiffness. As apple cider vinegar contains potassium, toxins and acid crystals in the body are removed in the form of urine. If you have acid crystals in the body, they move to places near the joints causing stiffness, pain and inflammation. The acid crystals are broken into solution by the acids and toxins are absorbed by the chemicals known as pectin for removal from the body.
Not Good, If:
You consume more than eight ounces per day.
You suffer from diabetes. Your blood sugar levels have to be monitored by the physician.
Garlic is very well-known for its anti-inflammatory properties. Ancient texts advise on the eating of three to four garlic pieces for getting relief from inflammation and rheumatism.
How Does It Work?
When you follow the process of eating garlic daily, the immune system is stimulated and circulation of blood is enhanced. For a healthy body, all the cells require sufficient quantity of oxygen. Selenium, one of the important antioxidants fights free radicals that can cause pain in joints.
Another vital medicinal component in garlic is sulfur contributing to production of collagen. This component is required to create cartilage tissues that act as a cushion between joints. Sulfur levels will always be lower in arthritic joints when compared to healthy joints; the body does not possess the ability to create sulfur by its process. When you add garlic to the diet, the sulfur assists in repairing cartilage and reduce the joint and muscle pain by providing an anti-inflammatory effect on the affected joints and tissues.
Not Good, If:
You are allergic to garlic. Refrain from using this method.
You are taking medication for blood-thinning such as Warfarin.
7. Heat And Cold Compress
Many doctors and medical practitioners recommend heat and cold treatments to ease symptoms of rheumatism. Cold is responsible for curbing joint swelling and inflammation. You can immediately pack up cubes of ice into a plastic bag and apply the ice pack on the affected painful joint during a rheumatoid arthritis flare-up, for instance.
You do not want to overdo cold treatments. You can apply the cold compress for 15 minutes at one time with at least a 30-minute break between consecutive treatments.
However, if you are experiencing tight and aching muscles, a relaxing hot shower can soothe the pain. Placing hot pads or hot packs is also helpful to ease stiff muscles.
Not Good, If:
It is always wise to consult your physician or physiotherapist and ask for guidelines as to how to use the heat and cold pack method.
8. Diet For Rheumatism
Food can be one of the contributing factors to the development of rheumatism even though there are no direct bearing reports of it. While the effects of dietary modifications may be sparse, there is little doubt that unhealthy dietary practices can severely aggravate the symptoms. Studies have been carried out to check the efficacy of various dietary supplements, and while most studies are inconclusive, certain supplements and nutrients have been shown to be beneficial.
Here are few foods that assist the natural body fight against rheumatism:
o Fiber from vegetables or fruits (strawberries).
o Extra virgin olive oil (oleocanthal – the chemical compound that blocks the enzymes causing inflammation).
o Whole grains
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Keeping the joints well lubricated and active is one of the best ways to put swelling and inflammation at bay.
Low-impact exercise is primarily one of the best ways to help reduce the onset of rheumatic symptoms. Avoid running or jogging type activities that can be hard on your bones and joints.
You can also perform stretching exercises.
Do not indulge in rigorous physical activity.
In case of more workload, take regular breaks by walking or pacing around.
Choose chairs that have high back instead of those without support.
However, focus on water-based activities such as swimming or aqua zumba that focus on movement as well as mobility in the joints without causing fatigue.
This is because in water you are 90% lighter. This will not put pressure on your joints and bones.
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If you suffer from severe joint pain even after consumption of home remedies, it is time to pay a visit to the doctor (rheumatologist) to prevent permanent damage.
You should consult the physician immediately if you have:
- Joint pain along with rashes or fever.
- Extreme pain in joints of body making you immobile.
- Numbness in arms and legs along with neck or back pain.
- Loss of bladder or bowel control.
- You should consult the doctor within a week if you suffer from:
- Mild to moderate pain in joints consistently; no improvement felt for more than six weeks.
- Side effects due to intake of medicines.
It is always advisable to consult a doctor who is specialized in rheumatism. If not, choose the one who can act along with your family doctor. You may have to see the specialized doctor only a few times, however, the family doctor can monitor as well modify the day-to-day treatment and improvements.
Natural Remedy Vs Pharmacy
Drugs against rheumatism are classified into three types:
- Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs
- Disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs
Analgesics such as paracetamol are also used; NSAIDS including Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as Diclofenac.
The most commonly used Disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs) are Humira, Orencia, Remicade etc.