Arthritis is an umbrella term for more than 100 different types of joint pain and inflammation but the most common type in the UK is osteoarthritis. The main symptoms of osteoarthritis are joint pain and stiffness, and problems moving the joint. Some people also have symptoms such as swelling, tenderness, grating or crackling sound when moving the affected joints.
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According to the NHS, the severity of osteoarthritis symptoms can vary greatly from person to person, and between different affected joints.
“For some people, the symptoms can be mild and may come and go. Other people can experience more continuous and severe problems which make it difficult to carry out everyday activities,” explains the health body.
Unfortunately, there’s no cure for osteoarthritis, but the condition does not necessarily get any worse over time.
Simple lifestyle tweaks can greatly alleviate joint complaints and help you maintain quality of life.
One remedy that sticks out is capsaicin cream.
Capsaicin is the spicy component found in peppers. It has long been touted for its pain-relieving properties.
Research has found that the pain-relieving benefits extend to osteoarthritis.
In one review, the researchers looked at the literature on capsaicin gel for hand and knee osteoarthritis.
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They found that in five trials, daily administration of capsaicin gel was significantly more effective for pain reduction than placebo.
In the study that spanned over a period of 12-weeks, there was over a 50 percent reduction in pain with capsaicin gel use.
How does it work?
According to the Arthritis Foundation (AF), applied as a topical cream, gel or patch, capsaicin activates specific nerve receptors causing local heat, stinging and/or itching sensations.
“Prolonged activation of these receptors causes them to lose their ability to function properly (and process pain signals) for extended periods of time,” explains the AF.
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It is worth noting that capsaicin must be used regularly to keep the nerve receptors from working properly and processing pain signals, it adds.
Other ways to ease osteoarthritis symptoms
Exercise is one of the most important treatments for people with osteoarthritis, whatever your age or level of fitness.
As the NHS points out, exercise may seem counterintuitive if you are suffering from osteoarthritis pain and stiffness, but the reverse is true.
“Regular exercise that keeps you active, builds up muscle and strengthens the joints usually helps to improve symptoms,” says the health body.
Exercise is also good for losing weight, improving your posture and relieving stress, all of which will ease symptoms, notes the health site.
One of the most effective exercises for controlling weight is aerobic exercise.
“Aerobic exercise also reduces fatigue and builds stamina, while helping control weight by increasing the number of calories the body uses,” explains the AF.
Examples of this type of exercise includes walking, jogging, bicycling, swimming or using the elliptical machine.
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