Home remedies may help a person manage symptoms of osteoarthritis. These can include heat and cold therapy, mineral baths, topical gels, and more.

Home remedies can help to alleviate pain in relation to osteoarthritis. In some cases, they may also help to slow down the progression of the condition.

A doctor can recommend home remedies alongside medical treatments.

Read on to find out more about home remedies for osteoarthritis and how they can help.

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Heat and cold therapy may be beneficial for reducing pain and improving joint function with osteoarthritis.

Applying a heat pack or warm compress to affected joints encourages blood circulation in the area. This can help to deliver more oxygen, blood, and nutrients. Stiff muscles and joints may then feel more relaxed.

Contrastingly, cold therapy reduces blood flow to the affected area. Applying an ice pack, cool pack, or cooling gel can help to reduce inflammation and associated pain.

A person should take care not to apply ice or heat packs directly to the skin. They can try wrapping them in a towel instead.

Learn more about heat and cold therapy for arthritis here.

Mineral baths such as an Epsom salt bath may help a person to manage symptoms of osteoarthritis.

Balneotherapy refers to bathing in mineral waters for the treatment of medical conditions. A 2019 study of people with knee osteoarthritis found that balneotherapy and physical therapy proved to be more effective than physical therapy alone.

A doctor can advise on how much of the mineral a person should add to bath water and how frequently they recommend taking a mineral bath.

Learn about Epsom salts here.

Some topical products for osteoarthritis are available over the counter. This means that a person does not need a prescription to use them.

The Arthritis Foundation recommends applying nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) in a gel form to the affected joint.

Diclofenac sodium 1% gel (Voltaren) can help to alleviate osteoarthritis pain in the following:

It is best for a person to discuss topical NSAIDs with their pharmacist for advice on how much gel to apply and how frequently they should apply it.

Topical NSAIDs may not work as well for some people as oral NSAIDs. However, as they may have fewer side effects than oral NSAIDs, some people may prefer to try topical gels first.

Learn more about topicals for arthritis here.

Depending on where osteoarthritis develops, it can affect a person’s mobility. Using a walking cane or walker can help to take the stress away from the hip or the knee, helping to ease pain when walking.

Learn more about mobility supports here.

A doctor can refer a person to an occupational therapist to recommend assistive devices. These help a person with osteoarthritis to more easily perform their daily tasks. They can also ease the stress on joints, which may slow down the progression of the condition.

Examples of assistive devices include:

  • grab rails
  • electric devices such as can openers
  • zipper and buttoning aids
  • reachers and grabbers

Certain exercises may help with managing osteoarthritis pain and slowing down the progression of the condition.

Examples of exercises a doctor or physical therapist may recommend include:

Learn about running with osteoarthritis here.

Dietary changes may have some benefits for managing osteoarthritis.


A 2018 article suggests that, as there may be a link between osteoarthritis and high cholesterol, lowering cholesterol levels where necessary can be beneficial.

Ways to lower cholesterol include consuming fewer fatty foods and eating a diet rich in:

  • oily fish, such as salmon and mackerel
  • whole grain bread
  • brown rice
  • wholewheat pasta
  • nuts
  • seeds
  • fruits and vegetables

Learn more about naturally lowering cholesterol here.

Vitamin K

Vitamin K plays a role in the health of cartilage and bone. It is best for a person with osteoarthritis to ensure they get enough vitamin K in their diet.

Doctors can advise on how much vitamin K each person should aim to get each day. Sources of vitamin K include:

Learn more about vitamin K here.

Mediterranean diet

The Mediterranean diet may help to manage the inflammation relating to osteoarthritis. However, more research into the long-term effects and benefits of the Mediterranean diet on osteoarthritis is necessary.

Examples of foods in the Mediterranean diet include:

  • fruits
  • vegetables
  • whole grains
  • nuts
  • olive oil
  • some fish
  • yogurt

It is best for a person to consult their doctor or dietitian before making any significant changes to their diet.

Learn more about osteoarthritis and diet here.

Some herbs may provide anti-inflammatory properties that can help reduce osteoarthritis inflammation.

A 2020 review of herbal remedies found the following to be beneficial for managing pain and other symptoms of osteoarthritis:

  • Boswellia serrata extract (Indian frankincense)
  • Boswellia carteri (oliban oil)
  • Curcuma domestica extract
  • curcumin
  • ginger
  • Withania somnifera root aqueous extract

Herbal remedies may work better for some people than others. It is best for a person to contact their doctor before beginning any herbal remedies or alternative treatments for osteoarthritis.

Learn more about herbs for joint pain here.

Maintaining a moderate weight may help a person with osteoarthritis to manage pain, especially if osteoarthritis develops in weight-bearing joints such as the knees or hips.

Relieving stress on the joints by maintaining a moderate weight or losing weight if necessary can help to:

  • reduce pain
  • improve mobility
  • reduce the risk of injury

Learn more about lifestyle changes for osteoarthritis here.

Doctors may recommend medical treatments for osteoarthritis. Medications include:

If symptoms do not respond to home remedies or medical treatments, doctors may recommend surgery for osteoarthritis.

Learn more about osteoarthritis medications here.

Here are some frequently asked questions about osteoarthritis.

What is the most effective treatment for osteoarthritis?

According to the Arthritis Foundation, oral NSAIDs are the most effective treatment for osteoarthritis. However, the benefits of treatment for osteoarthritis may differ for each person. A doctor will be able to advise on which treatments they feel would be most effective according to the person’s personal circumstances.

How do you treat osteoarthritis yourself?

Exercise and weight management are two of the main ways of managing osteoarthritis pain at home. It is best to contact a doctor for advice on which medical treatments and home remedies they recommend.

Which foods help relieve osteoarthritis?

Anti-inflammatory foods, such as those in the Mediterranean diet, may help to reduce inflammation relating to osteoarthritis. These include fruits and vegetables, whole grains, nuts, olive oil, and some fish.

Various home remedies may help a person to manage symptoms of osteoarthritis. Heat and cold therapy, mineral baths, topical products, and herbal remedies can help to reduce pain.

Mobility supports and assistive devices can help to reduce stress on the joints. Getting enough regular exercise or physical activity and maintaining a moderate weight may also help to ease pain and reduce stress on the joints.

It is possible that anti-inflammatory foods can help with reducing inflammation. A doctor may also recommend lowering cholesterol and ensuring that a person gets enough vitamin K in their diet.

It is best for a person to contact their doctor for advice on treatments if they have concerns about osteoarthritis.