What is Osteoarthritis?


Arthritis is inflammation of one or more of your joints. The most common type is osteoarthritis or osteoarthrosis. It is a degenerative process that causes cartilage to break down. Cartilage cushions the ends of bones. It is most common in hips, knees, hands and back.

What does it feel like?

You feel pain in your joints and some stiffness. The pain may get worse as you get older. You may have swelling, or less range of movement in your joints and rarely redness.

What causes arthritis?

Older people are more likely to get osteoarthritis. Damage to your joint because of trauma or overuse, family history, and obesity could be a factor in osteoarthritis.

How can I feel better?

Keep moving


Low impact exercise can help decrease pain and stiffness. Pool exercises, biking, swimming, strength training, and flexibility exercises could help. Talk to your health care professional about what kind of exercise is right for you. It will also depend on which of your joints are involved. Remember, lack of exercise can make your joints feel more stiff and painful!

Eat healthy

Being overweight can put stress on your joints. It is important to maintain a healthy weight. The anti-inflammatory diet is a good choice. Eat more vegetables and fruits, and healthy fats including oily fish. Eat less unhealthy fats like those that often come from animal products like meat and dairy. This could help to decrease the inflammation and pain from the arthritis.

Try any of these body therapies

These types of therapies could help you reduce your symptoms.

  • Acupuncture: This Chinese Medicine treatment involves inserting tiny, sharp needles into the skin. It can reduce pain and improve movement in patients with osteoarthritis.
  • Massage Therapy: This may provide you with short-term pain relief and improve your physical function.
  • Physical Therapy: A physical therapist will show you exercises to get stronger and more flexible.

Consider herbal and dietary supplements


You can consider taking some herbal and dietary supplements. Ginger, turmeric, green tea and fish oil can help fight inflammation. Many of these can affect your medications though. Be sure to talk to your healthcare professional before taking any herbal or dietary supplements.

Explore the mind-body connection:

  • Yoga: This mind-body exercise can help you improve your strength and flexibility. It can also help you feel better emotionally too! There are many types of yoga you can try. Find a teacher who can help you with your specific needs.
  • Tai chi: This is a Chinese meditative practice. It involves gentle, flowing movements. It can help improve balance and stability. It may also reduce anxiety.
  • Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR): This is a type of meditation training. Usually it is taught in an eight week class. For some people it can help reduce the pain related to arthritis.

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Additional Information


National Center for Complementary and Integrative Medicine

Mayo Clinic

University of Wisconsin Integrative Medicine Department


Manyanga T, Froese M, Zarychanski R, et al. Pain management with acupuncture in osteoarthritis: A systematic review and meta-analysis. BMC Complement Altern Med. 2014;14:312-6882-14-312.

Shengelia R, Parker SJ, Ballin M, George T, Reid MC. Complementary Therapies for Osteoarthritis: Are They Effective? Pain management nursing?: official journal of the American Society of Pain Management Nurses. 2013;14(4):10.1016/j.pmn.2012.01.001. doi:10.1016/j.pmn.2012.01.001.

Uhlig T. Tai chi and yoga as complementary therapies in rheumatologic conditions. Best Pract Res Clin Rheumatol. 2012;26(3):387-398.

Veldhuijzen van Zanten JJ, Rouse PC, Hale ED, et al. Perceived barriers, facilitators and benefits for regular physical activity and exercise in patients with rheumatoid arthritis: A review of the literature. Sports Med. 2015;45(10):1401-1412.

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