Make your own capsaicin cream
Capsaicin, the compound in chili peppers that gives them their heat, is an ingredient in many over-the-counter pain relief ointments. It works by reducing levels of a compound called substance P, which transmits pain signals to your brain. You can whip up your own massage oil by mixing a few dashes of ground cayenne with 2-3 teaspoons of olive oil. Apply it with gauze to unbroken skin on your painful joints several times a day. The first few doses will cause a mild burning sensation on the surface of your skin, but you’ll become desensitized to that feeling after a week or so. Just be sure to keep it away from your mouth, eyes, and other mucous membranes, where it will really sting.
Apply a chamomile tea poultice
Chamomile tea is an anti-inflammatory that may help with joint-pain relief. Brew a strong infusion using four chamomile tea bags in a cup or so of hot water. Steep, covered, for 20 minutes, then squeeze and remove tea bags. Soak a clean cloth in the cooling liquid and apply to achy joints.
Give joints the cold-hot treatment
You’ll need two containers for this treatment—but the relief is palpable and worth the trouble. Fill one container with cold water and a tray of ice cubs; the other with hot water at a temperature you can tolerate to touch. Starting with cold, immerse the aching joint for a minute, then switch to the hot water and immerse for 30 seconds. Keep switching from cold to hot for about 15 minutes, immersing the affected joint in each for 30 seconds each time. Finish with cold water and hold for a full minute.
Sip 4 cups of green tea a day
In a study on mice, Case Western Reserve University researchers gave one group the equivalent of four cups of green tea a day and the other group the same amount of plain water. Then they gave all mice a substance to induce RA. The tea-drinking mice were far less likely to develop arthritis than the mice that drank water. Other research has found tea’s polyphenol antioxidants were anti-inflammatory, improved arthritis-related immune responses, and significantly reduced cartilage damage.
Go for a swim
Swimming has long been recommended as a good exercise for people with arthritis; the weightlessness reduces the impact on joints while the exercise and improved circulation can help you find joint pain relief. A Taiwanese study found that working out in water significantly improves knee and hip flexibility, strength, and aerobic fitness. Meanwhile, an Australian study found that such programs also resulted in less pain and better overall function. Ask your local health club, hospital, or swimming pool about classes specifically designed for people with arthritis. Here are an additional 15 life hacks that can help make arthritis less painful.