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Home remedies for joint stiffness: debunking the myths

Home remedies for joint stiffness: debunking the myths

If you’re anything like us, you’ve probably spent hours searching the web for ways to help reduce joint stiffness. From magnetic bracelets to rum-soaked raisins… we’ve heard it all. But is there any truth to these bizarre treatments? We’re here to debunk common misconceptions and to shed light on some of the treatments you might come across. Let’s take a closer look…

Myth 1: Magnetic or copper bracelets can ease joint stiffness

Magnetic bracelet for joint health

The theory behind it

Magnet therapy and wearing copper jewellery are perhaps the most common two remedies for joint stiffness. The thinking behind magnetic bracelets is that the iron in our blood is attracted to the magnets. By wearing a magnetic band, blood circulation will improve and more necessary nutrients can reach affected joints more easily, easing stiffness. Copper jewellery works in a similar way, as supposedly we don't get enough copper in our diet. By wearing a copper bracelet, the copper will soak into the skin and ease inflammation.

The reasons behind the debunking

There are many studies which prove these do nothing to ease stiffness. Several placebo-controlled studies (for both Osteoarthritis and Rheumatoid Arthritis) have been done. And only a few small studies indicated that magnets offer some relief. But this is yet to be replicated in larger trials, so results aren’t definitive. What’s more, the theory behind copper deficiency stems from the mid-19th century and was debunked by scientists a long time ago.

Myth 2: Cod liver oil can reduce inflammation

Cod liver oil tablets

The theory behind it

Cod liver oil contains high levels of two Omega 3 fatty acids – DHA and EPA. Research shows that both can reduce inflammation. A 2015 review found that EPA and DHA moderately helps with joint swelling and pain, and morning stiffness in the joints. 

The reasons behind the debunking

Most studies behind cod liver oil were done on animals. Cod liver oil may help with joint stiffness, but it’s not guaranteed. Lots more trials need to take place to get a solid answer. Current guidelines don’t recommend using fish oil solely to treat joint stiffness, due to a lack of evidence. Though if it works for you, by all means carry on! As long as you keep taking cod liver oil as merely a complement to professional advice.

Myth 3: Heat is better than ice for stiff joints

Ice pack on knee

The theory behind it

When using heat on stiff joints, your blood vessels expand. This allows more blood, oxygen and nutrients to get to the affected area. And people often think that ice has the opposite effect.

The reasons behind the debunking

The myth that only heat helps stiff joints is just that – a myth. Heat is fantastic for easing joint stiffness, we’re not arguing that. However, ice works just as well! Applying ice in the evening can ease inflammation caused by daily activities. And applying heat in the morning helps to relax the muscles behind the joints.

Here are a few ways to ramp up your morning routine:

  • Apply a warm compress. We recommend buying a heating pad from your local pharmacy or ask your doctor for a recommendation. Rest the compress on the affected area for 20 minutes.
  • Take a steamy shower. A long, warm shower can help with morning stiffness and increase movement throughout the day.
  • Relax in the bathtub. Soaking in the tub has the same effect as a warm shower and will help loosen your joints.
  • Try some hydrotherapy. A warm pool is the perfect place to strengthen muscles and increase flexibility. Swimming is great for joint stiffness as the water reduces the effects of gravity, helping you to move more than you normally could on land.

Here are a few ways to cool down your joints in the evening:

  • Use an ice pack. Don’t own one? A bag of frozen peas will do the trick. Applying this to stiff muscles or joints can help with inflammation.
  • Leave enough time between applying heat and ice. We recommend waiting a couple of hours between sessions.

Myth 4: Ground turmeric can treat joint stiffness

Ground and cut turmeric

The theory behind it

Ground turmeric is widely believed to have anti-inflammatory properties. Plus, the biggest bonus is that it’s readily available from your local supermarket.

The reasons behind the debunking

There’ve been many trials and studies on whether turmeric works in treating joint stiffness. However, the only conclusive studies were carried out on animals. Human trials are yet to decisively prove the benefits of turmeric.

Myth 5: The right diet can ease joint stiffness

Fresh citrus fruit

The theory behind it

Citrus fruits – particularly grapefruits, oranges and limes – are rich in Vitamin C. And, as we all know, the right vitamins can help promote joint mobility.

Another popular home remedy is rum-soaked raisins. It’s believed the sulphur in these alcohol-infused fruits help to ease the symptoms of joint stiffness.

Finally, we’ve got nuts and seeds. The idea is that nuts are extremely rich in lots of necessary nutrients. Think Calcium, Magnesium, Zinc and Vitamin E, to name a few.

The reasons behind the debunking

Despite being good for your overall health, citrus fruits aren’t scientifically proven to be any better in easing joint stiffness than other fruits. Having said that, a healthy, balanced diet is essential for everyone. It helps boost your immune system and improve your overall health.

Although nuts are good for your general health, there’ve been no studies to show they ease joint stiffness. The same goes for booze-infused raisins.

Myth 6: Nightshade vegetables make joint stiffness worse

Nightshade vegetables, peppers, aubergines, tomatoes

The theory behind it

On the other hand, lots of people believe that certain foods – namely nightshade vegetables like aubergines, peppers, potatoes and tomatoes – worsen the symptoms of joint stiffness and swelling.

The reasons behind the debunking

There’s no scientific evidence to support this claim. In fact, some studies have shown the opposite!

We recommend you eat a diet rich in fruit and vegetables (including the nightshade variety). Many of them are high in Vitamins A and C, which are essential if you have joint stiffness. Plus, they help you maintain a healthy weight and boost your overall wellbeing.

The final word on home remedies

Although there’s no cure for joint stiffness, medication and lifestyle changes can manage symptoms and help you live a healthier, more active life. It won’t do you any harm to try these home remedies. In fact, they often work as a placebo, tricking your mind into thinking they’re working. And if it helps to make you more comfortable, then we’re all for it!

We always advise talking to your doctor before trying any home remedy. And you shouldn’t use any treatment in place of doctor-recommended medication... at-home treatments should always be a bonus add-on. What’s more, if you’ve been prescribed any medication, you should never stop taking it until your doctor says so – even if home treatments seem to be working!

If you’re looking for something that’s scientifically proven to work, why not try our joint-soothing iMOVE formula? Each ingredient has been carefully chosen and we only include things that have been proven to help! 

Want to learn more about joint stiffness? Check out our articles on at-home exercises your joints will love or discover the effects of too much sitting.

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