Arthritis: One simple activity you can do at home to alleviate symptoms
Arthritis causes pain and inflammation in a joint. Osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis are the two most common types of arthritis. As the NHS explained, Osteoarthritis initially affects the smooth cartilage lining of the joint – this makes movement more difficult than usual, leading to pain and stiffness. In rheumatoid arthritis, the body’s immune system targets affected joints, which leads to pain and swelling. While there is no cure for arthritis, lifestyle activities can go a long way to alleviating symptoms.
One simple activity people with arthritis can do at home is soaking in warm water. According to Bruce E. Becker, MD, director of the National Aquatics & Sports Medicine Institute at Washington State University in Spokane: “The research shows our ancestors got it right. It makes you feel better. It makes the joints looser. It reduces pain and it seems to have a somewhat prolonged effect that goes beyond the period of immersion.”
As the Arthritis Foundation explained, there are many reasons soaking in warm water does the trick. “It reduces the force of gravity that’s compressing the joint, offers 360-degree support for sore limbs, can decrease swelling and inflammation and increase circulation,” the health body said.
How long should a person soak? Based on the patients he’s studied, Dr. Becker says the optimal amount of time is around 20 minutes.
He also urges people to drink water before and afterward to stay well hydrated.
People should soak in warm but not hot water, cautions the Arthritis Foundation: “Water temperatures between 92 and 100 degrees are a healthy range. If you have cardiovascular problems, beware of water that’s too hot because it can put stress on the heart.”
It is also important to keep moving in the bath, says the health body. “Warm water stimulates blood flow to stiff muscles and frozen joints, making a warm tub or pool an ideal place to do some gentle stretching.”
The benefits carry on after a person has got out of the bath, according to Ann Vincent, MD, medical director of the Mayo Clinic’s Fibromyalgia Clinic in Rochester, Minn: “Patients report that soaking in a warm bath and stretching after that seems to help.”
Evidence supports the health benefits of exercising in warm water to ease arthritis.
One study evaluated the therapeutic effects of hydrotherapy which combines elements of warm water immersion and exercise.
One hundred thirty-nine patients with chronic rheumatoid arthritis were randomly assigned to hydrotherapy, seated immersion, land exercise, or progressive relaxation.
Patients attended 30-minute sessions twice weekly for four weeks. Physical and psychological measures were completed before and after intervention, and at a three-month followup.
The findings were promising. All patients improved physically and emotionally, as assessed by the Arthritis Impact Measurement Scales 2 questionnaire.
Belief that pain was controlled by chance happenings decreased, signifying improvement.
In addition, hydrotherapy patients showed significantly greater improvement in joint tenderness and in knee range of movement (women only).
The Arthritis Foundation also recommends bathing in epsom salts. Epsom salts contain magnesium, a mineral that’s important for bone and heart health. Epsom salts can boost magnesium levels as much as 35 per cent, according to researchers at the University of Birmingham.