Natural Osteoarthritis Pain Relief Remedies

Osteoarthritis is a degenerative joint disease that affects the knees, hips, back, and small joints in the fingers. Osteoarthritis affects over 20 million people in the United States, a figure that is expected to double in the next 20 years.

Here are five natural remedies that are used to provide pain relief for people with osteoarthritis. Keep in mind that, so far, scientific support for the claim that any natural remedy can treat osteoarthritis is lacking.


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Avocado/Soybean Unsaponifiables

Avocado/soybean unsaponifiables are one of the most promising arthritis remedies. Several studies have suggested that avocado/soybean unsaponifiables, vegetable extracts made from avocado and soybean oils, can improve the pain and stiffness of knee and hip osteoarthritis and reduce the need for non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). These extracts are known to decrease inflammation and stimulate cartilage repair.

In France, avocado/soybean unsaponifiables have been approved as a prescription drug. In other countries, they are available as a supplement in some health food stores or online.

A typical dose is 300 milligrams per day. It usually takes between two weeks and two months to see any effects. Studies have found no additional benefit with higher doses.

Eating avocado and soy, even in large amounts, will not provide enough of the unsaponifiables to have a therapeutic effect. Only 1/100th of the oil is the unsaponifiable portion.

The safety of avocado/soybean unsaponifiables has not been established in children, pregnant, or nursing women.

Glucosamine and Chondroitin Sulfate

At least five million people in the United States take glucosamine and chondroitin alone or in combination. Glucosamine is used to make a molecule involved in the formation and repair of cartilage, the rubbery substance that cushions the joints.

Although it's still unclear exactly how glucosamine in pill form works, it's believed to allow more cartilage building blocks to be made. Chondroitin sulfate appears to block cartilage-destroying enzymes and helps the joint cartilages remain elastic and supple.

Studies on glucosamine have found a reduction in the pain, stiffness, and swelling of arthritis. It is also thought to prevent structural damage to joints.

A study published in 2018 analyzed the effects of oral glucosamine sulfate on osteoarthritis-related pain and structural changes. It showed that oral glucosamine could moderately reduce osteoarthritis-related pain but had only a minor effect on joint space narrowing. It also showed that taking the supplement in smaller doses reduced the pain by a larger extent than taking a single large dose.

The dose typically used in studies is 1500 milligrams of glucosamine sulfate and 800 to 1200 milligrams of chondroitin sulfate. Different salts of glucosamine show different levels of effectiveness. It usually takes one to three months to take effect.

However, not all research shows a benefit from glucosamine and chondroitin. In fact, guidelines from the American College of Rheumatology and Arthritis Foundation recommend against the use of glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate, either alone or in combination.

Side effects may include mild stomach discomfort, which can be alleviated by taking glucosamine with meals. Some glucosamine supplements are derived from the shells of crabs and other shellfish, so people with shellfish allergies should ensure they use synthetic glucosamine.


The World Health Organization has identified more than 40 conditions that acupuncture may help treat, including osteoarthritis. Acupuncture involves the insertion of hair-thin needles into acupoints in the body. It is believed to rebalance the flow of energy, or qi, in the body. Studies have found that acupuncture releases natural pain-relieving substances, such as endorphins and serotonin.

A study involving 60 people with osteoarthritis knee pain found that after eight weeks of treatment with electro and manual acupuncture, participants experienced a significant improvement in pain and joint function.


Although many people think yoga involves twisting your body into pretzel-like poses, yoga can be safe and effective for people with osteoarthritis. Yoga's gentle movements can build strength, flexibility, and balance and reduce arthritis pain and stiffness.

A 2017 study compared the effects of a type of yoga, hatha yoga, and aerobic exercises in people with osteoarthritis of the knee. After an eight-week course of weekly 45-minute classes plus home practice sessions on two to four days per week, the participants in the yoga group showed a statistically significant reduction in pain compared with those in the aerobics group.

If you have osteoarthritis, it's important to take some simple precautions before trying yoga.

  • Talk with your doctor and ask about any restrictions.
  • Look for a teacher who has worked with people with arthritis and can suggest modifications for you. Some hospitals and community centers offer yoga classes geared to people with arthritis.

Massage Therapy

Massage can help to relieve muscle tension associated with osteoarthritis. Joint pain can cause the surrounding muscles to become tense. Massage boosts circulation to the affected joint, which decreases joint stiffness and promotes cartilage repair. Massage therapists do this not by directly massaging an inflamed joint but the muscles surrounding the joint.

Massage can also prevent muscle spasms in other parts of the body. Osteoarthritis is usually one-sided, which can make muscles elsewhere tense as they try to compensate for the weakened joint.

The information contained on this site is intended for educational purposes only and is not a substitute for advice, diagnosis, or treatment by a licensed physician. It is not meant to cover all possible precautions, drug interactions, circumstances, or adverse effects. You should seek prompt medical care for any health issues and consult your doctor before using alternative medicine or making a change to your regimen.

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