5 Ways to Treat Arthritis Pain: Which Is Right for You?


“My hands and wrists thumped with pain all the time.”  “I had joint inflammation so bad that I couldn't dress myself.” “I had stiff hands, and my feet hurt, especially in the morning.”

Does this sound like you?

In our fast paced world, joint pain is more and more common. Whether it stems from arthritis, a sports injury, or wear and tear from a lifetime of use, joint pain can be debilitating. It prevents you from doing the activities you love, and even from functioning normally every day.

5 Options to help joint pain

You can take over-the-counter pain killers such as aspirin or stronger anti-inflammatory drugs prescribed by a doctor. But most drugs temporarily mask the pain, and don’t treat the root causes.

Other options include herbal supplements, and enzymes. Let’s explore the pros and cons of each so you can pick the best treatment for you.

 

  1. Over- the-counter pain relief drugs

 

Aspirin, Advil, Tylenol, Aleve, Motirin, Excedrin, Bufferin: You may have an array of these popular pain relievers stashed in your home medicine cabinet. Which is best for you, and are they safe to take?

Over the counter pain relief comes in two main types: NSAIDS, or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, and acetaminophen (Tylenol), an anti-inflammatory agent that eases pain in a different way from NSAIDs.

The most common over-the-counter NSAIDs include Aspirin (Bayer, Bufferin, Excedrin), Ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB) and Naproxen (Aleve).

NSAIDs work by blocking enzymes in the body that help make pain-signaling chemicals. When these enzymes are blocked, you feel less pain.

Benefits and risks

The benefits are that NSAIDs are easy to obtain and relatively inexpensive. Many people use NSAIDs to relieve joint and arthritis pain.

However, they do have risks. While the occasional NSAID for a headache can provide quick relief without harm, “Many people assume that because these drugs are sold over the counter they are completely safe,” says Elliott Antman, MD, professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Woman’s Hospital in Boston. “But they can also have consequences that are important to understand.” 1

According to Harvard Health Publications, “Regular use of an NSAID has been linked to an increased risk of heart disease. All NSAIDs can be hard on the stomach, causing ulcers or gastrointestinal bleeding. These problems tend to emerge only after long-term or heavy use.” 2

Acetaminophen is easier on the stomach than NSAIDs, but there are reports of people developing liver problems even after taking small to moderate amounts of acetaminophen for long periods of time. 3

The bottom line is to use NSAIDs with caution. They all increase the risk of serious side effects, including stomach ulcers, gastrointestinal bleeding, kidney failure, heart attacks, and strokes. Don't take them for long periods of time without consulting a doctor. 4

  1. Glucosamine/Chondroitin Products

You’ve probably seen these popular supplements advertised on TV or in print ads, touted as the natural solution to joint pain. So what are they, and how do they work?

Glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate are part of normal cartilage, which is tissue that cushions joint spaces to absorb stress during movement. 

Glucosamine is an amino sugar that the body produces and distributes in cartilage and other connective tissue, and chondroitin sulfate is a complex carbohydrate that helps cartilage retain water.

Glucosamine is a natural substance from shellfish. Chondroitin comes from natural sources such as shark or bovine cartilage, or is manufactured in synthetic forms.

Glucosamine and chondroitin are available in tablets, capsules, powders, and liquids. There are few if any side effects, but people with shellfish allergies can have allergic reactions. Check with your doctor before taking this or any other supplement.

Does it work?

Major studies at the NIH, National Center for Complimentary and Integrative Health show conflicting results.

“In general, research on chondroitin has not shown it to be helpful for pain from knee or hip osteoarthritis. Some studies found evidence that chondroitin might help, but the improvements may be too small to make a difference to patients. There is little evidence that glucosamine has beneficial effects on joint structure.” 

The American College of Rheumatology (ACR) has recommended that people with knee or hip osteoarthritis not use glucosamine or chondroitin.

  1. Wobenzym

Wobenzym is a concentrated enzyme compound. Enzymes are biological catalysts that support the body’s metabolic processes, including immunity and healing. 

Wobenzym is said to help inflammation from arthritis, and swelling and pain in the joints after sports injuries, and support flexibility and mobility in the joints.

Studies suggest that Wobenzym works, although the results are inconclusive:

What do the studies show?

“The results of various studies (placebo-controlled and comparisons with nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) in patients with rheumatic diseases suggest that oral therapy with proteolytic enzymes produces certain analgesic and anti-inflammatory effects. However, the results are often inconsistent. Nevertheless, in the light of preclinical and experimental data as well as therapeutic experience, the application of enzyme therapy seems plausible in carefully chosen patients with rheumatic disorders.” 5

 

  1. Turmeric /Curcumin Products

 

Turmeric comes from the root of the Curcuma longa plant, in the ginger family. It has been used in both Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine as an anti-inflammatory and to treat a wide variety of aches and pains.

Curcumin is the primary pharmacological agent in turmeric. It is known for its ability to reduce pain and inflammation, and has proven health effects comparable to over-the-counter anti-inflammatory agents as well as some prescription medications, without the side effects of many synthetic drugs. 

The most powerful aspect of curcumin may be its ability to control inflammation. 

 “A 2004 study published in the journal Oncogene found that curcumins were effective alternatives to the drugs aspirin, ibuprofen, sulindac, phenylbutazone, naproxen, indomethacin, diclofenac, dexamethasone, celecoxib, and tamoxifen in exerting anti-inflammatory and anti-proliferative activity against tumor cells.” 6

The trouble with turmeric supplements

The problem with taking turmeric supplements is that the curcumin doesn’t dissolve easily in water, and what you do absorb is excreted from your body relatively quickly.  “Evidence from numerous literatures revealed that curcumin has poor absorption, biodistribution, metabolism, and bioavailability. 7

As well, “taking large amounts of turmeric for long periods of time may cause stomach upset and, in extreme cases, ulcers. People who have gallstones or obstruction of the bile passages should talk to their doctor before taking turmeric.” 8

5. UnFlame 

UnFlame is unlike anything else on the market. Dr. Hedaya, MD, DFAPA,  formulated UnFlame for himself, and it worked so well he wanted others to benefit from it. 

UnFlame is a carefully blended balance of natural ingredients, using powerful herbs to address the occasional pain you may experience when you overuse your joints, muscles, or back. This pain can result from injury, illness or chronic medical conditions.   

UnFlame supports the normal function of joints, muscles, and backs.

The active ingredients are a proprietary herbal blend of Boswellia Serrata, Horsetail, Stinging Nettle, Garlic, Celery, and Vitamin B1.

What are the results of using UnFlame?

Unflame normalizes inflammation, and many people experience relief shortly after taking it, sometimes within 2-3 hours. For others it may take two to five days before you feel better. Results vary from person to person. It’s easy to absorb, and wont upset your stomach. 

Always check with your health-care provider before you take Unflame, or any herbal or natural supplement. If you are on blood pressure medication, UnFlame needs to be taken under a doctor’s supervision, since it can lower blood pressure, causing dizziness. If you have intestinal problems, are pregnant or nursing, do not take UnFlame.