Arthritis and/or joint pain is easily one of the most common health complaints we hear these days. Painful, swollen joints can significantly affect your quality of life, but the good news is that there are a number of things we can do to manage it naturally. Read on to find out everything you need to know about arthritis and joint pain.
Arthritis is a broad term referring to various types of joint inflammation. There are actually over 140 different types of arthritis, of which osteoarthritis is the most common. Other common types include gout and rheumatoid arthritis.
For the purpose of this blog article we’re going to focus on the most common form: osteoarthritis, and general joint pain and stiffness. Much of this advice will also be applicable to other types of arthritis, however some conditions do require more specialised care (for example rheumatoid is an autoimmune condition which requires a slightly different approach) so it is best to pop in for a consultation with one of our girls or another trained health professional for more specific advice.
As the most common degenerative joint disease, osteoarthritis affects more than 25% of the adult population (1). This condition can affect all areas of the joint, including the bone, cartilage, ligaments, and/or synovium (joint connection). Essentially, the joint tissues are being broken down quicker than they are being repaired. Symptoms may include joint pain, stiffness, aches, discomfort, red, tender and/or swollen joints, bone degradation, restricted movement, and a grating sound (and feeling) when joints are moved.
A number of factors can contribute to the development of osteoarthritis, for example: normal wear and tear as we age, obesity, inflammation, sporting injuries, and a genetic predisposition.
The good news is that there are a number of things we can do to help support our joints, prevent the development of arthritis, and/or reduce the severity of symptoms.
Our top tips for joint care are as follows:
- Have three serves of good quality oily fish (salmon, tuna, sardines, mackerel) per week. Oily fish contains essential fatty acids, most importantly omega 3 which is anti-inflammatory and may be effective in reducing joint pain associated with inflammation (2). If you don’t eat a lot of oily fish in the diet, or want additional support a high quality omega 3 supplement such as Nordic Naturals Ultimate Omega would be ideal.
- Ensure you are getting adequate protein in the diet as protein is what builds, repairs and protects our joint tissue. If you struggle to get enough good quality protein, a protein powder (and/or collagen supplement) would be a good way to go. Collagen is a specific protein which is used to build a lot of our connective tissue and can be very beneficial for maintaining good joint health.
- Move your body as much as it will allow. Staying active and stretching adequately are important for maintaining healthy joints. Low impact exercises such as walking (with good supportive shoes), swimming, yoga and tai chi are great for encouraging the flexibility and strength of the joints.
- Consider a turmeric supplement as a natural anti-inflammatory and pain reliever. Curcumin (the active component of turmeric) has been proven to be beneficial against arthritis in a number of studies (3). Many of our younger customers also take turmeric to support their active lifestyles and reduce joint pain associated with sport and exercise.
- Consume a well balanced diet rich in wholefoods to ensure you are getting enough vitamins and minerals. Minerals in particular play a very important role in maintaining bone integrity and overall joint health. With the reduced mineral levels in the soil, it can be difficult to get an adequate intake of minerals through diet alone. We often recommend a good quality mineral or multivitamin supplement to maintain good joint health.
- Consider a glucosamine + chondroitin supplement. Glucosamine and chondroitin are both structural components of cartilage which are produced naturally by the body. When taken as a supplement they may help to retain joint structure, maintain the fluid around the joints and reduce inflammation. Glucosamine and chondroitin supplementation has been shown to improve physical function, reduce stiffness and relieve pain (4).
Remember preventative care is a lot easier, more effective and cheaper than treatment so even if your joints aren’t giving you too much trouble it’s a great idea to implement some of these tips to maintain your good health!
- Chen, D., Shen, J., Zhao, W., Wang, T., Han, L., Hamilton, J. L., & Im, H. J. (2017). Osteoarthritis: toward a comprehensive understanding of pathological mechanism. Bone research, 5, 16044. doi:10.1038/boneres.2016.44
- Gammone, M. A., Riccioni, G., Parrinello, G., & D’Orazio, N. (2018). Omega-3 Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids: Benefits and Endpoints in Sport. Nutrients, 11(1), 46. doi:10.3390/nu11010046
- Hewlings, S. J., & Kalman, D. S. (2017). Curcumin: A Review of Its’ Effects on Human Health. Foods (Basel, Switzerland), 6(10), 92. doi:10.3390/foods6100092
- Zhu, X., Sang, L., Wu, D., Rong, J., & Jiang, L. (2018). Effectiveness and safety of glucosamine and chondroitin for the treatment of osteoarthritis: a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Journal of orthopaedic surgery and research, 13(1), 170. doi:10.1186/s13018-018-0871-5
Disclaimer: This blog post is intended for educational purposes only. Please do not use this information to diagnose or treat any health concerns you may have. This information is not intended to replace the advice given to you by a qualified health professional. Get in contact with a Tonic Health consultant or a relevant health professional if you need guidance on your individual health journey.