Is your body saying “ouch” to life? We shine a light on the blight of joint pain.
The number of people living with joint pain on a daily basis is continually growing, with an alarming statistic of one in every five Australians diagnosed with arthritis. Pain of any sort is hard to live with and determines not only what we can and can’t do, but our state of mind as we move through each day.
Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis, especially in weight bearing joints such as hips and knees. It is a degenerative condition with a breakdown of the joint cartilage and symptoms of pain, swelling and joint stiffness.
When it comes to arthritis, the Rheumatoid variety features pronounced painful inflammation and ‘heat’ and is often diagnosed by the telltale appearance of the ‘rheumatoid factor’ that can be picked up in blood tests.
Because Rheumatoid arthritis has a strong inflammatory component, the diet should be addressed to rule out food sensitivities. Common culprit foods include wheat, dairy, eggs and crustaceans. Nightshade foods should be avoided in general by people with both types of arthritis, this includes potato, tomato, eggplant, chilli and capsicum.
Other factors such as environmental toxicities (heavy metals and chemicals), and pathogens (bacteria, viruses) may also need to be assessed, depending on the individual.
Eating loads of fresh vegetables, salads, fruit (especially berries) and cold water fish is ideal, limit highly processed and junk foods.
Good health starts in the gut and digestive deficiencies are linked directly with inflammation, many people with joint pain will find benefit from taking digestive enzymes or apple cider vinegar before meals to improve digestion. Use turmeric and ginger in cooking for their anti-inflammatory effect.
Supplements for joint health
There are many health supplements on the market that claim to reduce pain, stiffness and swelling of joints, but which one to choose?
Green Lipped Mussel – This nutrient is most effective as a whole food supplement, with nothing isolated. It has both an anti-inflammatory action and provides nutrients to build healthy cartilage and nourish the joint capsule, including the synovial fluid that provides ‘cushioning’. Helpful for both forms of arthritis. Contains naturally occurring glucosamine, omega oils and proteins.
Turmeric/Curcumin – A proven history of anti-inflammatory action, and also helpful for gut and digestion. Can be taken as a single supplement for those allergic to shellfish or for vegetarians and vegans.
Fish Oil – provides omega-3 which works actively as an anti-inflammatory, can be used in conjunction with green lipped mussel and/or Turmeric.
MSM (Natural Sulphur) – a vegan/vegetarian option that provides organic sulphur – a mineral that helps reduce inflamed joints and has other benefits including supporting collagen formation for healthy skin, hair and nails.
Glucosamine & Chondroitin – more helpful for osteoarthritis rather than rheumatoid, as it helps to maintain healthy cartilage and a healthy joint capsule. Interestingly, Green Lipped Mussel naturally contains glucosamine as part of it’s nutrient profile.
Many people with knee osteoarthritis (OA) do not walk enough and some believe more exercise is required, however opinions vary on the type and amount of exercise that is ideal.
According to research undertaken at Boston University in the US, walking is ideal and they found the ‘magic number’ of 6,000 steps per day (just under 5 kilometers) reduced the risk of ‘functional limitations’. In other words taking 6000 steps daily increased the freedom of movement for those with ongoing joint pain.
Yoga has gone from ‘woowoo’ to mainstream in the last 10 years, and for good reason. Yoga increases strength, balance and fitness but also reduces stress and has a generally uplifting impact on a person’s state of mind. Yoga practice can be modified to any level of difficulty and each pose can be modified again to allow for injuries, aches and pains. Yoga strengthens the core, and increases muscle strength and agility throughout the body which in turn supports the joints.
A 2015 study of yoga on otherwise fairly inactive individuals with arthritis, found that it may help “safely increase physical activity, and improve physical and psychological health” for those with joint pain.