Why bother with alternative pain relief therapies when there is a plethora of drugs on the market reputed to ease the pain of arthritis? It is true that NSAIDS such as ibuprofen, naproxen and ketoprofen initially relieve arthritis pain by treating the symptoms. However, these drugs do not address the underlying issues that cause arthritis, and they are known to contribute to stomach inflammation when used frequently. Therefore many people are turning to alternative remedies to slow the progression of arthritis and relieve pain.

Acupuncture is a classic component of traditional Chinese medicine that has gained respect in Western medicine in regards to pain relief. Acupuncture is based on the theory that the functions of the body are regulated by a flow of energy called qi. Unbalanced energy flows result in pain or illness. Qi flows through the body along 20 meridians which connect to over 2,000 acupuncture points. Penetrating the skin with needles at the appropriate acu-points causes the targeted release of endorphins, blocking the messages of pain in that area from being delivered to the brain.

A diet rich in antioxidants plays an important role in slowing the progression of arthritis. Antioxidants work by diffusing free radicals that cause the destruction of body tissues. Carotenoids are a group of antioxidant nutrients found in cantaloupe, pumpkin, carrots, winter squash, kale and spinach. Anthocyanins contribute to the health of connective tissue and are found in cherries, blueberries, blackberries, strawberries and plums. Green tea is a powerful source of the antioxidant epigallocatechin-3-gallate, or EGCG. Studies show EGCG slows down the production of inflammatory chemicals in the body, and contributes to strong joints by preventing the breakdown of cartilage.

Decreasing inflammation in the body is key to preventing pain. Omega-3s decrease inflammation by inhibiting the production of cartilage-eroding enzymes. This results in reduced tenderness of joints and less pain overall. Fish such as salmon, herring, mackerel, sardines and anchovies are known to be rich in omega-3s. Other reputable sources of omega-3s are flaxseeds, walnuts and chia seeds. Herbal supplements for joint pain relief often include ginger and turmeric for their anti-inflammatory properties.

Glucosamine and chondroitin are found naturally in cartilage and bone. Many people take these compounds as supplements to lubricate joints, slow the deterioration of cartilage, and increase joint mobility. Calcium and Vitamin D3 are used together in supplements for the benefit of bone health and to decrease bone loss. Fish oil capsules containing DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) and EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) are used to reduce inflammation and add a boost of omega-3s to the diet.