Ways to Reduce Inflammation From Arthritis

The joint inflammation of arthritis is the chief culprit behind your joint damage, stiffness, swelling, and pain. Inflammation is at the root of many chronic diseases, not just arthritis. It plays a role in heart disease, asthma, and even certain cancers, as well as many pain conditions.

Prescription medications are often used to treat arthritis and other inflammatory diseases, but you have a lot of other options to consider, as well, including over-the-counter (OTC) medications, dietary adjustments, and other lifestyle changes.

Reducing inflammation is necessary for arthritis management and control. Below, you'll find eight ways to lower your inflammation and feel better.



Man taking pills

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Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are commonly prescribed for inflammation related to arthritis, and you can also use OTC NSAIDs. These drugs include:

  • Advil, Motrin (ibuprofen)
  • Aleve (naproxen)
  • Aspirin
  • Celebrex (celecoxib)

Other arthritis drugs—such as disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs (DMARDs), corticosteroids, and biologics—also battle inflammation, but they do so by targeting different molecules in the immune system, so they don't work the same way as NSAIDs.

Certain illnesses such as rheumatoid arthritis cause increased inflammation that require prescription therapies in order to control the inflammation. Speak to your doctor about the anti-inflammatory therapy that is appropriate for you.

Acetaminophen, a popular over-the-counter pain reliever in Tylenol and many combination drugs, is not an anti-inflammatory drug.


Dietary Supplements

Research shows that fish oil (omega-3 fatty acid) taken in capsule or liquid form can be beneficial for reducing inflammation. According to The Arthritis Foundation, a therapeutic dosage is taking a fish-oil supplement of up to 2.6 grams containing at least 30% EPA/DHA (the active ingredient in fish oil) twice a day.

Ginger and turmeric are other supplements that are recognized for having anti-inflammatory properties.


Anti-Inflammatory Diet

An anti-inflammatory diet is highly recommended for people trying to control inflammation or for those who just want to eat as healthy as possible. An anti-inflammatory diet focuses on cutting your intake of saturated fats and trans fats while increasing your intake of foods rich in alpha-linolenic acid.

The Mediterranean diet, which is considered a good example of an anti-inflammatory diet, is based on the consumption of:

  • Fruits
  • Vegetables
  • Whole grains
  • Nuts
  • Beans
  • Legumes
  • Fish and seafood at least twice per week
  • Poultry, eggs, cheese, and yogurt in moderation
  • Sweets and red meats only on rare, special occasions

When it comes to beverages, green tea is a good choice. Research shows that it has anti-inflammatory properties.​


Maintain Ideal Weight

Being overweight can drive up your inflammation. Where body fat is distributed can contribute, as well. For instance, a large waist circumference (35 inches for women and 40 inches for men) is typically associated with excess inflammation.

Researchers recognize that there is an interplay between inflammation and obesity, although more needs to be learned. At the very least, talk to your doctor to determine the ideal body mass index (BMI) for your frame, and work toward that goal.

You don't need to lose a lot of weight. Reducing your weight by between 5% and 10% significantly lowers your level of inflammation, according to Nadia B. Pietrzykowska, M.D. in an article published by the Obesity Action Coalition.


Exercise Regularly

Exercise may be a great way to reduce inflammation. Experts recommend 30 to 45 minutes of aerobic exercise, five days a week.

Many people with arthritis steer clear of regular exercise, as they feel exercise makes arthritis worse.

While caution may be warranted, remember that doing something is better than doing nothing. Start slowly, at whatever pace you consider doable, and then build on that.


Stop Smoking

Smoking has myriad effects on your health, and studies show that includes higher levels of inflammatory markers. If you are currently a smoker, try to use the idea of less inflammation and pain as motivation to quit.


Lower Stress

Stress has been linked to higher levels of inflammation in the body. A 2017 study found that acute stress raised levels of numerous inflammatory markers. Therefore, practicing stress-relieving techniques may help to reduce inflammation.


Get Enough Sleep

Inadequate sleep has been associated with increased inflammatory markers. In a review of studies on inflammation and sleep, researchers concluded that sleep disturbance and long sleep duration are linked to increases in systemic inflammation.

When trying to determine how much sleep is adequate, remember that it is not precisely the same for everyone. According to researchers for the National Sleep Foundation, adults generally need between seven and nine hours per night, but that can vary from one person to the next.

The key is to determine how much sleep you require to feel well. Then, be aware of how much sleep you are getting on a regular basis. A healthy sleep pattern will help reduce inflammation.

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