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Arthritis can be debilitating. Here are some tips for keeping joint pain at bay all year round.


Fed up with aches and pains? You’re not alone. More than one in six Australians suffer from arthritis of some kind, according to Arthritis NSW, and that number is only going to grow. By 2050, over seven million Australians are predicted to have arthritic issues. But what exactly is arthritis, and how do you know if you have it?

What is arthritis?

Arthritis is an umbrella term that can refer to over 100 medical conditions that affect the joints (the area where two or more bones meet). Arthritis can have a number of causes, ranging from the deterioration of cartilage around joints to an autoimmune disease. For sufferers of arthritis, simple everyday tasks can become extremely difficult.

There are a number of different types of arthritis. The two most common are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.

What are the symptoms?

Self-diagnosing arthritis can be difficult, because not every ache requires medical attention. Often, the early signs of arthritis are mistakenly blamed on an injury or overactivity.

Not only that, the onset of arthritis can be slow and only mildly painful, or rapid and extremely painful. It’s different for everyone. That being said, there are some signs that should make you consider seeing a doctor. These include joint pain and swelling to seemingly unrelated issues such as heart problems, fatigue or a rash.

If you’re asking yourself “could I have arthritis?” then it’s probably time to see your doctor.

Orthodox treatment for joint pain

To treat joint pain, it’s very important to determine the type of arthritis involved, says Dr Christopher Browne, Rheumatologist at St Vincent’s Clinic in Sydney. “Pain, stiffness, swelling of the joints and fatigue are the common symptoms of arthritis. Then we try to determine what category of arthritis is going on because the treatment varies.”

Dr Browne stresses that there are good treatments for arthritis, and that you shouldn’t have to put up with constant joint pain. “There’s a lot of other measures that help symptoms and offer effective pain relief, including medication, physiotherapy, local injections and lifestyle modification,” he says. “With proper assessment and treatment, people’s lives can be made a lot more comfortable.”

For those suffering from osteoarthritis, he says, one of the best ways to deal with pain is to lose weight. “Unfortunately there are a lot of overweight people who have bad knee problems, and they can be helped enormously just by assistance in weight loss,” Dr Browne says. “It’s not easy to achieve but it can be done.”

Natural remedies

While it’s always necessary to see a doctor and follow their advice, there are a variety of helpful natural products that can be helpful in easing arthritic pain, says Corinne Bett, Naturopath at BioCeuticals. “For both acute and chronic pain, herbal anti-inflammatories can provide relief without the side effects associated with prescription medications. Herbs such as devil’s claw, cat’s claw and turmeric have a long history of traditional use for arthritic conditions." Keep in mind it's important to follow your doctor's advice on alternative medicines.

Diet pain

There are a number of foods that can cause inflammation and increase joint pain for those suffering from arthritis. Foods high in sugar, fats, oil, MSG, refined carbohydrates, gluten and alcohol can all increase inflammation of the joints. According to the Arthritis Foundation, sufferers should increase the proportion of fruits and vegetables in their diet. Making fish their main protein and getting more omega-3s can also make a big difference to symptoms.

Corinne Bett says bromelain, an enzyme found in pineapple, can also reduce inflammation in the joints.

What behaviours cause pain and how to avoid them

Because many activities that trigger joint pain are necessary everyday tasks, it’s difficult to completely avoid them. However, it is possible to moderate them. It’s important to take note of behaviours that cause you pain and avoid them when possible. For example, gardening is an activity that is necessary and often enjoyable. However, it can also aggravate back, neck and leg pains. In order to lower the amount of pain you’re experiencing, you might need to cut down on the activities you identify as causing you pain.

Another way to minimise pain is to use tools that have been specifically tailored to help. “There’s some good advice from occupational therapists of appliances that can simplify a lot of home activities,” says Dr Browne. Speaking to professionals and getting personalised advice for how to moderate painful activities and maintain your lifestyle can help you get the most out of life even when living with arthritis.

7 top tips for pain management

While it’s necessary to seek advice from a health professional to help you create a detailed pain management plan, there are a few tips you can follow to reduce your joint pain. Here are Corinne Bett’s seven tips for managing arthritic pain:


Eating anti-inflammatory foods can be helpful. Watching what you eat and maintaining a healthy weight will help you avoid excess knee pain.


Keeping your muscles active will help them support your bones and reduce joint pain. It will also help you stay at a healthy weight.


Heavy landings will cause inflammation in your joints, leading to pain.


Maintaining good posture ensures you don’t put too much weight on any specific part of your body.


Overuse is one of the most common causes of osteoarthritic pain. Know your limits and don’t push yourself more than you should.


The right footwear can be extremely useful for those suffering from knee and back pain. Talk to your doctor about exploring different options.


Listen to your GP and specialists. They are the experts. Follow their advice on the correct use of prescribed medications and natural therapies.