Natural approaches to osteoarthritis that help

Some people with osteoarthritis find relief with natural treatments such as physical therapy and acupuncture. Many experts recommend a combination of drug and natural treatments for people with osteoarthritis. Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis.

Osteoarthritis occurs when the cartilage in a joint breaks down and wears away, causing changes in the bone of the joint. The joints most commonly affected by osteoarthritis are the hands, hips and knees. There is evidence that some non-pharmacological treatments for osteoarthritis are beneficial for some people. For example, physical therapy and lifestyle changes can help people manage their symptoms. This article describes some common natural treatments for osteoarthritis, including heat and cold therapy, nutritional supplements, and acupuncture.

Do natural treatments help osteoarthritis?

Osteoarthritis cannot be cured. When prescribing treatments, doctors aim to help patients manage their symptoms so they can have a good quality of life.
Doctors tend to recommend a combination of natural and pharmacological or drug treatments. Options include physical activity, physical therapy, and pain medication. Although there is some evidence that some natural treatments are beneficial for people with osteoarthritis, more research is needed to confirm the benefits of other treatments. Below are some common natural approaches to osteoarthritis.

heat or cold therapy

Applying heat or cold to the affected joint can help reduce the pain and swelling associated with osteoarthritis.

A 2021 study of 117 people with knee osteoarthritis found that heat therapy and cold friction gel were effective at improving pain and joint function. Applying heat to a painful joint causes the blood vessels in that area to dilate. This allows more blood, oxygen, and nutrients to flow to the inflamed tissues. Increasing blood flow in this way can relax stiff muscles and joints. The organization adds that cold treatment has the opposite effect, reducing inflammation. Because of this, it might be a better choice when a person is having a flare-up.

A person can try heat therapy by:

hot shower
Applying a warm compress, e.g. B. an electric heating pad or a damp washcloth that the person has heated in the microwave
Bathe in a pool or hot tub for about 20 minutes.

A person can try cold therapy by:

Wrap a bag of frozen vegetables in a thin towel and use as a cold compress
Purchase a reusable ice or gel pack
Place a towel in the freezer for 15 minutes, then place it over the painful area
Use cold friction gel

physical therapy

Physical therapy can help a person move safely and efficiently. Physical therapists customize therapy programs to meet people’s needs, but usually include stretching and targeted exercises.

Physical therapy can provide the following benefits to a person with osteoarthritis:

help maintain flexibility and freedom of movement
Strengthen the muscles to support the damaged joint
Increase the strength of the muscles surrounding the joint
maintaining physical fitness
help the person carry out daily activities.

support devices

Brace devices can protect joints and help a person perform daily tasks. A physical therapist, occupational therapist, or prosthetist can fit a person with braces or splints to help align and support joints. Canes and crutches can reduce the stress your body puts on damaged joints when you walk. People with severe osteoarthritis can move more easily.

Supporting devices include:

the rails

Lifestyle Changes

Doctors often recommend that people with osteoarthritis adopt or maintain certain lifestyle habits, such as a nutritious and balanced diet, exercise, and sleep. Controlling cholesterol levels and keeping blood pressure within a healthy range can also reduce symptoms of osteoarthritis. It may also make sense to stop smoking. People with osteoarthritis may benefit from achieving or maintaining a moderate body mass index (BMI), since excess body weight can put extra pressure on damaged joints.

Authors of a 2018 review published in the journal Rheumatology note that certain foods may help reduce inflammation associated with osteoarthritis symptoms. Beneficial foods include oily fish like sardines, mackerel, and salmon, as well as avocados and nuts, which contain omega-3 fatty acids. Researchers recommend eating one or two servings per week and taking a fish oil supplement daily.


There is limited evidence that supplements are effective in treating osteoarthritis symptoms. A person should speak to their doctor before taking any dietary supplements as they can interfere with the prescribed medication.

Popular dietary supplements for osteoarthritis include:

fish oil
glucosamine and chondroitin
Vitamin D
S-adenosyl-L-methionine (SAMe)
Boswellia Serrata
Avocado/Soy Unsaponifiables (ASU)
willow bark
undenatured type II collagen (UC-II)

body and soul

Mind-body approaches like yoga, tai chi, and cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) can help some people manage their osteoarthritis symptoms.
In 2019, the American College of Rheumatology (ACR) and the Arthritis Foundation reviewed the available evidence for different treatments for osteoarthritis. Based on this information:

I highly recommend Tai Chi for people with knee or hip osteoarthritis as it can help people improve their strength and balance.
Recommend yoga to people with knee osteoarthritis under certain conditions.
conditionally recommend CBT for people with osteoarthritis of the knee, hip or hand.


Acupuncture is part of Traditional Chinese Medicine. A trained therapist inserts fine needles through the skin at specific points to balance the flow of energy or life force in the body. In recent years, many people have suggested that acupuncture can help with osteoarthritis pain.
A 2019 review examined the evidence supporting the use of acupuncture to treat osteoarthritis of the knee. The authors conclude that acupuncture can effectively relieve pain and improve knee function. However, they do point out that more research is needed to confirm the benefits.


Osteoarthritis usually develops slowly over time, but it can develop faster after an injury. Osteoarthritis can increase the risk of complications in some people. Sore joints make it difficult to exercise, which increases the risk of weight gain. Obesity can lead to diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and heart disease. Although there is no cure for osteoarthritis, it is possible to treat the symptoms and maintain a good quality of life.


Osteoarthritis occurs when the cartilage in the joints breaks down. It can cause pain, stiffness, and swelling. Osteoarthritis is incurable and gets worse over time. Doctors usually recommend a combination of natural and drug treatments. Natural treatments for osteoarthritis include physical therapy, lifestyle changes, heat and cold therapy, and braces. People can find relief from their symptoms through a variety of approaches. Before trying a new treatment, you may want to talk to a doctor about it.


Ariana, M., et al. (2021). The effect of local heat therapy versus cold gel on pain and joint function in patients with knee osteoarthritis [Abstract].

Dumain, T. (2018). Cold therapy for arthritis: 6 easy ways to do it at home.

Katz, JN, et al. (2021). Diagnosis and treatment of osteoarthritis of the hip and knee: an overview.

Kolasinski, SL, et al. (2020). 2019 American College of Rheumatology/Arthritis Foundation guideline for the management of osteoarthritis of the hand, hip and knee.

Li, J., et al. (2019). The effectiveness and safety of acupuncture for knee osteoarthritis: A review of systematic reviews.

Thomas, S., et al. (2018). What is the evidence for a role for diet in osteoarthritis?

* Presse Santé strives to impart medical knowledge in a language accessible to all. In NO CASE can the information provided replace a medical consultation.

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