Arthritis is a condition that leads to pain, swelling and destruction of the joints. When it occurs in the knees, arthritis can make everyday activities like climbing stairs, kneeling and walking difficult. While anti-inflammatory medicines like naproxen and celecoxib (Celebrex) may be effective in reducing joint swelling, they can also cause side effects like gastric irritation and increased risk for internal bleeding. There are a variety of natural ways to reduce swelling in the knees caused by arthritis, many of which are as cheap and as effective as pharmaceutical treatments.
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Heat and Cold Therapy
Heat and cold therapy are among the cheapest, quickest remedies for swelling and pain caused by knee arthritis. Heat therapy may include use of hot packs, paraffin wax, a heating pad or hot bath, while cold can be utilized by applying ice packs or submerging the legs in cold water.
According to "Arthritis Today," heat therapy is most effective for soothing tired muscles and alleviating stiffness in joints, while cold therapy can be used to reduce inflammation and swelling. Cold therapy is not recommended for people with circulatory disorders, as it constricts blood vessels and reduces the flow of blood to certain parts of the body.
While it may seem counterproductive, regular exercise is one of the most important components of an arthritis treatment plan. According to the Johns Hopkins Arthritis Center, physical activity reduces joint pain and swelling, strengthen surrounding muscles, replenish lubrication to joint cartilage and decrease bone loss. It is also necessary for weight management, healthy cardiovascular function and prevention of obesity-related conditions like diabetes and heart disease.
Certain types of exercise may be safer and more beneficial for people with knee arthritis. Water aerobics, gentle stretching exercises like yoga and workouts that avoid repetitive use of the knees are most effective. Running, jogging and contact sports like football should be avoided, because they can cause further joint damage. Balance exercise with adequate rest, and avoid exercising during acute flare-ups.
Popular for its use in spicy Indian dishes like curry, turmeric is an excellent herbal remedy for swelling of the knees. It contains curcumin, which acts as an anti-inflammatory agent in the body. According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, turmeric helps treat the pain and swelling of osteoarthritis when used in combination with Boswellia, winter cherry extract and zinc. Its anti-inflammatory properties make it useful for other conditions that involve inflammation, such as uveitis (eye inflammation) and ulcerative colitis.
The average dose of turmeric for treating swelling of the knees is 1 to 3 grams of dried root powder daily. Turmeric may be taken in capsule form, brewed into tea or added to foods for its anti-inflammatory effects. Like other anti-inflammatory agents, turmeric may thin the blood and increase the risk of bleeding.