What is Osteoarthritis Pain and How to Reduce It

Aches and pains come and go throughout life, but ailments that linger can leave a lasting impact on the body. Diseases like osteoarthritis can cause chronic pain in the body and prevent you from operating normally. But what is it?

Osteoarthritis is the painful result of cartilage gradually deteriorating between the joints and bones. Without cartilage to protect them, joints experience increased aching and soreness, particularly with overuse, inactivity, or movement in general. While some people use nature-based products to address their osteoarthritis pain, others use external devices to navigate their condition. With so many options, it can be tricky to know where to start. Here are several things you can do to reduce osteoarthritis pain.

Herbal Remedies

Many people are weary of using expensive medications that come with heavy side effects. For this reason, people turn to herbal remedies as an alternative. Since the beginning, humans have used herbs of varying backgrounds to treat illness and osteoarthritis is no different. Some people stick to the basics like using chamomile tea to soothe the body, while others turn to more advanced efforts like an herbal tonic, smoothie, or extract to receive relief. Either way, herbs remain a natural way to treat your osteoarthritis pain symptoms.

Hot/Cold Packs

One of the most common ways to address osteoarthritis pain is to apply hot and/or cold packs to the affected joints. Adding heat is known to ease soreness in the area while adding cold can reduce inflammation caused by irritation. You can choose to use them separately, but alternating between hot and cold can may be soothing as well. Osteoarthritis can cause joints to swell and ache simultaneously, so using the hot/cold method to address pain can address both of these and lead to a faster healing time.

Manual Therapy

Physical obstacles and ailments are generally addressed by some form of physical therapy. In the case of osteoarthritis, manual therapy is most commonly used to treat and manage pain. Manual therapy is a specialized method of physical therapy that involves using specific hand-work techniques. It strays away from using machines and devices and instead uses the hands to massage, stretch, and mobilize the tissues surrounding your joints to keep them flexible and ready for use. Check in with your physician to determine which approach to manual therapy is best for you.

Movement and Exercise

It’s a common misconception that exercise will worsen symptoms of osteoarthritis. However, consistent exercise can actually improve symptoms over time. Though it may hurt to move certain joints, a lack of movement can cause your muscles to weaken, which can lead to added stiffness and worsened symptoms. To prevent this from happening, add some form of physical activity to your daily routine. Be sure your physical activity involves a combination of exercises designed to strengthen muscles and build general fitness.

Assistive Devices

Many people with advanced osteoarthritis experience loss of mobility and accelerated joint pain that hinders their ability to move freely. In these cases, assistive devices may be of great help to regaining some of this freedom. Assistive devices include physical aids such as walking canes, splints, and wrist braces. Even special footwear, insoles, and shock-absorbing soles for osteoarthritis in the ankles and knees are considered assistive devices. Your physical therapist is your best bet in determining which assistive devices are best for you.


Sometimes prolonged pain requires a different kind of hands-on approach. With this, the TENS unit is an effective option. Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) is administered via a machine that signals electrical impulses by way of electrodes (sticky patches that attach to the skin). These electrical signals encourage overactive joints to calm rather than spasm. Have a talk with your physician or therapist about gaining access to the right TENS unit for your condition.

Weight Loss

Movement isn’t the only thing that can cause problems for your joints. Additional weight can rile osteoarthritis symptoms by placing added stress on your joints. For this reason, losing weight with exercise and a balanced diet can help remove some of this added pressure. Movement and exercise are important for managing symptoms, so using this to also manage your weight can help you feel better overall. Though losing weight won’t cure osteoarthritis, it can improve pain and make symptoms more manageable.

Osteoarthritis Options

Osteoarthritis can be relentless, but it doesn’t have to be the end-all. With the right tools and resources at your disposal, you can address the painful symptoms of osteoarthritis while also working to improve your overall health. Whether you choose to use herbs, an external aid, or prefer to go to physical therapy, remember that you have options and can make adjustments to your health plan if need be. Find what works for you to keep the harsh effects of osteoarthritis at bay.