Foods for Joint Pain

Woman eating healthy salad

Can your diet affect joint pain?

Joint pain may be experienced as a result of an acute injury, such as an ankle sprain, knee sprain, or rotator cuff tear. Joint pain may also accompany varying types of joint inflammation, including osteoarthritis (degenerative joint disease), rheumatoid arthritis, psoriatic arthritis, and joint inflammation secondary to lupus erythematosus and irritable bowel syndrome. Of the numerous causes of joint inflammation, osteoarthritis is by far the most common, frequently affecting the lower back, neck, hips, knees, shoulders, and wrists. Many factors are associated with the development of osteoarthritis, including overuse, too little use, faulty biomechanics, and overall lack of exercise. Joint pain related to osteoarthritis may be improved and ameliorated to a certain extent by engaging in a comprehensive program of restoring more efficient biomechanics, targeted exercise, and healthy nutrition.

Diet is frequently implicated in various systemic inflammatory disorders and, in consequence, various joint inflammatory conditions. For example, celiac disease, a chronic inflammatory disorder, is often associated with gluten insensitivity or gluten intolerance. Malabsorption syndrome and leaky gut syndrome, both of which may be associated with joint inflammation, may be associated with gluten insensitivity or gluten intolerance. The inclusion of nutritional supplementation such as probiotics and prebiotics is helpful in the overall management of malabsorption syndrome and leaky gut syndrome. As well, instituting a gluten-free diet may be of assistance in managing gluten sensitivity, gluten intolerance, and conditions such as celiac disease.

Additionally, sugar, refined carbohydrates, saturated fats, monosodium glutamate, and alcohol are known causes and potentiators of joint inflammation. For certain individuals, dairy products, eggs, tomatoes, nuts, and coffee may exacerbate existing joint inflammation. In contrast, for most people, diets containing at least five servings of fresh fruits and vegetables daily help prevent the development of joint inflammation and help reduce inflammatory processes and thus ameliorate a primary cause of joint pain.

Exercise helps to improve joint range of motion, strengthen supporting muscle groups, and increase the resiliency and flexibility of local soft tissues such as tendons and ligaments. Optimally, exercise is done five days a week for at least 30 minutes each day. Beneficial forms of exercise include walking, swimming, bicycling, yoga, and strength training. If you haven't exercised in some time, start slowly and gently, building up your capacity and stamina.

Regular chiropractic care plays a key role in the effective management of joint pain. By detecting and correcting sources of spinal nerve irritation and nerve interference, regular chiropractic care helps to optimize the functioning of your entire physiology. Potential causes of joint pain in the neck, mid back, and lower back are addressed directly, and joint pain in other locations is benefited by more normalized communication between those sites and the nerve system as a whole. In this way, regular chiropractic care helps improve the long-term overall health and well-being of you and your family.

Basu A et al: Dietary fruits and arthritis. Food Funct 9(1):70-77, 2018

Oliviero F, et al: Anti-inflammatory effects of polyphenols in arthritis. J Sci Food Agric 98(5):1653-1659, 2018

Aryaeian N, et al: The effect of ginger supplementation on some immunity and inflammation intermediate genes expression in patients with active rheumatoid arthritis. Gene 698:179-185, 2019

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