The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports Medicine

Aches in Your Feet? We’ve Got Natural Remedies for Arthritis in the Feet

Posted by on Friday, October 9th, 2015

Arthritis is a difficult chronic condition to overcome. It can be an autoimmune problem (as in the case of rheumatoid arthritis), related to overuse (as in the case of osteoarthritis), or it may be associated with a traumatic injury or a complication of foot surgery. Approximately 55,000 people a year suffer midfoot injuries like fractures or dislocations that fail to heal properly and cause the development of arthritis.1https://steinhardt.nyu.edu/scmsAdmin/uploads/004/320/TFAS%20Rao%20Midfoot%20arthritis.pdf The Arthritis Foundation estimates that nearly half of all people over 60 will suffer some form of arthritis in the feet.2http://www.everydayhealth.com/osteoarthritis-pictures/ways-to-ease-arthritis-foot-pain.aspx In this article, we’ll cover some of the things you can do at home to ease the everyday aches and pains of foot arthritis.

arthritis in the feet
Arthritis affects the feet of millions of Americans, and treatment depends on the severity and type of arthritis. Image source: Flickr CC user Peter Stevens

Massage

A relaxing chamomile oil massage can reduce your need for acetaminophen, according to a report published in the journal Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice.3http://www.ctcpjournal.com/article/S1744-3881(15)00049-3/abstract While chamomile won’t restore lost collagen, it can reduce pain and inflammation with natural chemical compounds called terpenoids and flavonoids.

Informal studies have demonstrated that massage yields “significant improvements in knee pain, stiffness, function, range of motion and walking.”4http://www.arthritis.org/living-with-arthritis/treatments/natural/other-therapies/massage/massage-benefits.php The repetitive motions lower the production of the stress hormone cortisol, boost production of serotonin, and inhibit neurotransmitters linked to pain.

In the absence of a masseuse, you can try using a foam roller — particularly after a workout — for similar effect.

Supplements

The traditional Indian spice turmeric has long been used in eastern medicine to lessen pain and inflammation. Its effectiveness has been explored recently in several different studies. A 2006 study found that turmeric was most effective at preventing joint inflammation, but a 2010 clinical trial found long-term improvement in pain and functioning in 100 patients with osteoarthritis who were treated with the turmeric supplement Meriva. Another small 2012 pilot study found that BCM-95 curcumin supplement worked to reduce joint pain and swelling in rheumatoid arthritis patients better than the NSAID drug diclofenac. See The Arthritis Foundation website for more information and dosing.5http://www.arthritis.org/living-with-arthritis/treatments/natural/supplements-herbs/guide/turmeric.php

Food & Drink

Experts also recommend adding the following arthritis-busting foods and drinks to your diet:

  • Ginger: The gingerol in fresh, ground, chopped, or bottled ginger inhibits the same pain-causing enzymes in the body as ibuprofen and other NSAIDs. It’s easy to steep a few shavings of fresh ginger in boiling water to make a soothing tea.
  • Tart Cherries: Long recommended as a gout treatment, tart cherries inhibit COX enzymes that trigger inflammatory prostaglandins and provide the body with a healthy dose of antioxidants, which flushes out pain-causing toxins. Eat 10-20 tart cherries or drink 32 ounces of tart cherry juice a day to feel the beneficial effects.
  • Wine: UK researchers found that people who drank 4-6 glasses of wine a week were 45% less likely to develop knee osteoarthritis than the abstinent. “Drinking in moderation has been shown to decrease circulating biomarkers of systemic inflammation,” says Karen Costenbader, MD, a rheumatologist at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston.6http://www.nutritionletter.tufts.edu/issues/11_5/current-articles/Could-Choice-of-Alcoholic-Beverage-Affect-Arthritis-Risk_1712-1.html

Exercise

You don’t want to be out pushing your body to the extreme when you’re dealing with arthritis pain. Yet, there are plenty of gentle exercises known to reduce pain. For instance:

  • Tai Chi: A 2010 University of North Carolina study found that tai chi participants saw significant improvements in arthritis pain, stiffness and sleep disturbances after eight weeks. A 60-minute class taken twice weekly improved arthritis symptoms by 7%, researchers found.7http://www.med.unc.edu/www/newsarchive/2010/november/study-tai-chi-relieves-arthritis-pain-improves-reach-balance-well-being
  • Yoga: A review of clinical research from 1980 to 2010 found that yoga consistently reduced tenderness, swollen joints, pain and disability in people with rheumatoid arthritis.8http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3026480/ Significant improvements in mental health and energy were also reported in most of the studies.
  • Strength Training Exercises: Sometimes arthritis develops as a response to weakened calf or thigh muscles. Performing two sets (and 10 reps) of exercises like prisoner squats, overhead dumbbell squats, dumbbell lunges and low side-to-side lunges can strengthen the legs and take some of the pressure off your knees, ankles, and feet.
  • Swimming: Swimming in warm water is a great low-impact way to stay in shape, without stressing the joints. A 1996 study of 139 arthritis patients enrolled in hydrotherapy found “significantly greater improvement in joint tenderness and in knee range of movement” and maintained improvement in emotional and psychological state.

Athletic Tape

Due to a lack of clinical research, some experts say kinesiology tape–the stretchy fabric bandage athletes often stick to sore spots–has little more than a placebo effect on arthritis sufferers.9http://articles.latimes.com/2011/apr/04/health/la-he-skeptic-pain-20110404 Even so, the makers of KT Tape recommend their product for arthritis sufferers to “ease pain and promote circulation.”10http://www.kttape.com/kt-tape-for-arthritis/ Taping is not recommended as a long-term cure for chronic arthritis pain, but it could help you get through a tough workout.

Advanced Foot Arthritis Treatments in NYC

When you need serious relief from pain and disability, New York City’s Center For Podiatric Care and Sports Medicine has solutions for you. We offer state-of-the-art diagnostics, as well as the latest advanced pain therapies, including the MLS laser, extracorporeal shockwave therapy, biopuncture injection therapy, and more. Contact us to discuss treatment options.

 

 

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1. https://steinhardt.nyu.edu/scmsAdmin/uploads/004/320/TFAS%20Rao%20Midfoot%20arthritis.pdf
2. http://www.everydayhealth.com/osteoarthritis-pictures/ways-to-ease-arthritis-foot-pain.aspx
3. http://www.ctcpjournal.com/article/S1744-3881(15)00049-3/abstract
4. http://www.arthritis.org/living-with-arthritis/treatments/natural/other-therapies/massage/massage-benefits.php
5. http://www.arthritis.org/living-with-arthritis/treatments/natural/supplements-herbs/guide/turmeric.php
6. http://www.nutritionletter.tufts.edu/issues/11_5/current-articles/Could-Choice-of-Alcoholic-Beverage-Affect-Arthritis-Risk_1712-1.html
7. http://www.med.unc.edu/www/newsarchive/2010/november/study-tai-chi-relieves-arthritis-pain-improves-reach-balance-well-being
8. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3026480/
9. http://articles.latimes.com/2011/apr/04/health/la-he-skeptic-pain-20110404
10. http://www.kttape.com/kt-tape-for-arthritis/

If you have any foot problems or pain, contact The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports MedicineDr. Josef J. GeldwertDr. Katherine Lai, Dr. Ryan Minara and Dr. Mariola Rivera have helped thousands of people get back on their feet. Unfortunately, we cannot give diagnoses or treatment advice online. Please make an appointment to see us if you live in the NY metropolitan area or seek out a podiatrist in your area.