If joint pain or stiffness make daily activities more challenging, you’re not alone. This is a common complaint, especially for people aged 50 and up. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that one in five U.S. adults have doctor-diagnosed arthritis and, as the population ages, it is projected that 67 million Americans will have arthritis by 2030.
Symptoms can occur in hands and fingers, feet, toes and ankles, shoulders, wrists, elbows and your jaw. Joint pain typically comes from arthritis-induced inflammation or, in some cases, rheumatoid arthritis, which is a flawed immune response. What can you do to ease the pain?
NextAvenue.org offers several suggestions. First, if you’re overweight, “losing as little as 10 to 15 pounds could cut your risk of osteoarthritis—a major source of stiffness—in half.” One study found that losing 1 pound actually removes 4 pounds of pressure from your knees. Whether you need to change your eating habits to lose weight or not, some foods—such as ginger—can help reduce inflammation (as little as 2 to 3 teaspoons daily can help). Meanwhile, eating soy was found to reduce knee pain by as much as 30 percent in an Oklahoma State University study. When participants ate 40 grams (1.5 ounces) of soy-based protein daily for three months, they were able to reduce pain medicine in half. Also add cherries, red grapes and turmeric to your diet to relieve joint pain throughout the day.
Another dietary change to consider: using olive, canola and flaxseed oils, rather than corn, safflower or sunflower oils. Extra-virgin olive oil contains oleocanthal, which “has properties similar to non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications.” Reduce consumption of omega-6 fatty acid foods (meat and poultry) and make sure to eat two to three weekly servings of cold-water fish (salmon, for example) to benefit from omega-3 fatty acids, which fight inflammation.
Be sure to read the entire article for even more tips, such as practicing tai chi or trying acupuncture.
Prevention.com, meanwhile, shares tips on natural pain relief methods. Some people may find success with these strategies and not need NSAID pain relievers (over-the-counter or prescription nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs), while others may be able to reduce their NSAID dosage. “Keep in mind,” the writer cautions, “that natural remedies are slower than drugs—give them at least 8 weeks to work.”
One herbal mix, Zyflamend, appears to inhibit the COX-2 enzyme that triggers inflammation. Read the Prevention article for recommended strategies to use this mix to reduce your NSAID usage. Another supplement to consider: glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate, a cartilage derivative. One “landmark study” found that this relieved knee pain if the person suffered moderate to severe levels. People with mild symptoms, though, didn’t fare better than those who were given a placebo. Again, read the article for dosage suggestions, along with yet another natural remedy to consider.
Joint pain doesn’t have to put a damper on your day. Making a few tweaks to your diet and remaining active can help reduce discomfort and help you enjoy your daily activities.