By: Vishal Mehta, B.Pharm, RPh

Arthritis describes the inflammation and swelling of joints and their connective tissues, affecting one-in-five Canadians of all ages. Although many pain relief strategies exist, a drug-free option is an excellent first step.

The first strategy level for mild arthritis is a lifestyle change. Excessive body weight becomes counterproductive when trying to relieve limb and joint pain, so slimming down will help.

Exercise and stretching will work to keep muscles and connective tissues strong and flexible, providing better joint support. Swimming, biking, and walking are good low-impact but cardio-rich activities. If you’re opting for a less strenuous workout, try yoga or Tai Chi. Meditative movement activities are also great stress-relievers!

For the next level, perusing the shelves of a home healthcare pharmacy can reveal some excellent aid options. Cold and warm compresses can comfort aching joints or loosen up tight muscles. Compression garments and neoprene support braces are comfortable but tight-fitting aids that support and stabilize your joints and control swelling. Splints can help arthritic digits, whereas canes or other walking aids can help you get mobile.

Other non-drug treatments include topical creams like capsaicin (extract from chili peppers) and supplements like glucosamine and chondroitin. Health Canada licences all supplements but does not guarantee efficacy.

Non-drug pain management is a safe and prudent first step. To review your options, visit Yurek Home HealthCare in London. For higher-level strategies, speak to a Yurek pharmacist about over-the-counter drug options or your doctor about prescription medications. For information about arthritis, contact the Arthritis Society of Canada.