Chronic joint pain in areas such as the knees, hands, elbows, shoulders, and elsewhere is a common issue faced by many people. The leading cause of this type of pain is usually osteoarthritis, which is the most prevalent form of arthritis[i].
According to the World Health Organization, around 10% to 15% of adults worldwide experience moderate to severe joint pain. The prevalence of joint pain increases with age, with more than half of adults over the age of 65 reporting joint pain[ii].
Risks and associations[iii]:
Joint pain can be caused by a variety of factors, including injury, overuse, and various underlying medical conditions such as osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, gout, and lupus. Other factors that can contribute to joint pain include obesity, poor posture, and muscle weakness.
Certain factors can increase a person's risk of developing joint pain. These include age, gender (women are more likely to experience joint pain than men), family history of joint problems, previous joint injuries, and certain occupations that require repetitive motions or involve heavy lifting. Additionally, conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, and high blood pressure are also associated with an increased risk of joint pain.
Research suggests that diet may play a role in joint pain. Certain foods, such as those high in sugar, saturated fats, and refined carbohydrates, may contribute to inflammation in the body and exacerbate joint pain[iv]. On the other hand, a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats can provide anti-inflammatory nutrients that may help reduce joint pain and stiffness. Incorporating foods such as fatty fish, nuts, and leafy greens into your diet may help alleviate joint pain and improve overall joint health[v] [vi].
The importance of nutritional therapy:
Our nutritional therapists will comprehensively review your entire medical history, diet and lifestyle and many other factors in order to grasp an understanding of your unique case and formulate a naturopathic plan to support your joint pain symptoms as an individual.
Turmeric: Turmeric is one of the most popular supplements for treating pain, especially joint pain caused by osteoarthritis. studies found that it improves symptoms of joint pain and may even be comparable to ibuprofen[vii]. Try: Wholistic Turmeric by Pukka.
Fish Oil/ Omega 3: Docosahexaenoic acid and eicosapentaenoic acid are omega-3 fatty acids found in fish oil and are known to have anti-inflammatory properties. Studies show success in reducing pain in rheumatoid arthritis[viii]. Try: Scandinavian Rainbow Trout Oil (90 Softgels) by Viridian.
Glucosamine: is a naturally occurring component of cartilage, which is a substance that prevents bones from rubbing against each other and causing inflammation and pain. This compound has been shown to potentially prevent the breakdown of cartilage that can occur with arthritis. Glucosamine is one of the most well-studied supplements for osteoarthritis, and many supplements aimed at treating joint pain contain this compound. Research indicates that taking glucosamine for up to three years may slow down the narrowing of the joint space, which is a marker of the condition worsening.
Collagen: Collagen is a protein found in the body that plays a key role in maintaining the health of joints, skin, and other tissues.
Try: Vollagen & Glucosamine Complex by Terranova
Chondroitin: Similar to glucosamine, chondroitin is a building block of cartilage. It may also help prevent cartilage breakdown from osteoarthritis[ix]. Try Planet Paleo: Organic Bone Broth Collagen Protein - Herbal Defence
SAMe (S-Adenosyl methionine): is a supplement frequently utilised to alleviate symptoms of osteoarthritis. It is naturally produced by the liver from an amino acid called methionine, and plays various roles, such as aiding in the repair and production of cartilage[x]. Try: Balanced Amino Acid Complex (90 caps) by Viridian
Devil’s Claw: Harpagophytum, commonly known as Devil's claw, contains harpogoside, a chemical compound that exhibits anti-inflammatory properties. Studies show taking devil’s claw may help with joint pain from osteoarthritis[xi]. Try: Devils Claw by A Vogel. Also try Joint Tincture by The Organic Pharmacy
Methylsulfonylmethane (MSM): MSM is frequently included as an ingredient in joint pain supplements. According to a study, MSM was found to enhance pain relief and improve overall functioning as compared to a placebo in those with osteoarthritis[xii]. Try: MSM Flakes (200g) by Kiki Health
Exercise regularly: Regular exercise can help keep your joints flexible and strengthen the muscles around them. Low-impact exercises like walking, swimming, and cycling are easy on the joints[xiii].
Maintain a healthy weight: Being overweight puts extra stress on your joints, especially your knees and hips. Losing weight can help reduce joint pain and prevent further damage[xiv].
Protect your joints: Avoid repetitive motions and take breaks from activities that put stress on your joints. Use protective gear when playing sports or doing activities that could cause injury.
Quit smoking: Smoking can increase inflammation and damage to your joints, so quitting smoking can help improve your joint health[xv].
Manage stress: Stress can worsen joint pain, so practicing stress-management techniques like meditation, deep breathing, or yoga can help improve your joint health[xvi].
Manual therapies: Naturopathic practitioners may also suggest manual therapies like massage or chiropractic adjustments to help relieve joint pain and improve mobility.
[i] Arden, N., & Nevitt, M. C. (2006). Osteoarthritis: epidemiology. Best Practice & Research Clinical Rheumatology, 20(1), 3-25. doi: 10.1016/j.berh.2005.09.007
[iii] Hochberg, M. C., & Silman, A. J. (2001). Epidemiology of the rheumatic diseases. Oxford University Press.
[iv] Hu, Y., Costenbader, K. H., Gao, X., Al-Daabil, M., Sparks, J. A., Solomon, D. H., & Lu, B. (2016). Sugar-sweetened soda consumption and risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis in women. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 104(2), 527-533. doi: 10.3945/ajcn.116.132563
[v] Huang, Z., Rose, A. H., & Hoffmann, P. R. (2016). The role of selenium in inflammation and immunity: from molecular mechanisms to therapeutic opportunities. Antioxidants & Redox Signaling, 26(7), 373-404. doi: 10.1089/ars.2016.6666
[vi] Kulkarni, S. K., Dhir, A., & Akula, K. K. (2009). Potentials of curcumin as an antidepressant. Scientific World Journal, 9, 1233-1241. doi: 10.1100/tsw.2009.141
[vii] Daily JW, Yang M, Park S. Efficacy of Turmeric Extracts and Curcumin for Alleviating the Symptoms of Joint Arthritis: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Randomized Clinical Trials. J Med Food. 2016 Aug;19(8):717-29.
[viii] Senftleber NK, Nielsen SM, Andersen JR, Bliddal H, Tarp S, Lauritzen L, Furst DE, Suarez-Almazor ME, Lyddiatt A, Christensen R. Marine Oil Supplements for Arthritis Pain: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Randomized Trials. Nutrients. 2017 Jan 6;9(1):42.
[ix] Herrero-Beaumont G, Ivorra JA, Del Carmen Trabado M, Blanco FJ, Benito P, Martín-Mola E, Paulino J, Marenco JL, Porto A, Laffon A, Araújo D, Figueroa M, Branco J. Glucosamine sulfate in the treatment of knee osteoarthritis symptoms: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study using acetaminophen as a side comparator. Arthritis Rheum. 2007 Feb;56(2):555-67.
[x] Najm WI, Reinsch S, Hoehler F, Tobis JS, Harvey PW. S-adenosyl methionine (SAMe) versus celecoxib for the treatment of osteoarthritis symptoms: a double-blind cross-over trial. [ISRCTN36233495]. BMC Musculoskelet Disord. 2004 Feb 26;5:6. doi: 10.1186/1471-2474-5-6.
[xi] Leblan D, Chantre P, Fournié B. Harpagophytum procumbens in the treatment of knee and hip osteoarthritis. Four-month results of a prospective, multicenter, double-blind trial versus diacerhein. Joint Bone Spine. 2000;67(5):462-7.
[xii] Debbi EM, Agar G, Fichman G, Ziv YB, Kardosh R, Halperin N, Elbaz A, Beer Y, Debi R. Efficacy of methylsulfonylmethane supplementation on osteoarthritis of the knee: a randomized controlled study. BMC Complement Altern Med. 2011 Jun 27;11:50. doi: 10.1186/1472-6882-11-50.
[xiii] Dunlop, D. D., Song, J., Semanik, P. A., Sharma, L., Bathon, J. M., Eaton, C. B., Hochberg, M. C., Jackson, R. D., Kwoh, C. K., Mysiw, W. J., Nevitt, M. C., Chang, R. W. (2011). Objective physical activity measurement in the osteoarthritis initiative: Are guidelines being met? Arthritis & Rheumatism, 63(11), 3372-3382. doi: 10.1002/art.30562
[xiv] Felson, D. T., Anderson, J. J., Naimark, A., Walker, A. M., Meenan, R. F. (1988). Obesity and knee osteoarthritis. The Framingham Study. Annals of Internal Medicine, 109(1), 18-24. doi: 10.7326/0003-4819-109-1-18
[xv] Zhang, Y., Niu, J., & Felson, D. T. (2010). Smoking and risk of incident rheumatoid arthritis in women: a prospective study. Arthritis & Rheumatism, 62(3), 679-685. doi: 10.1002/art.27338
[xvi] Zou, L., Zhang, Y., Yang, L., Loprinzi, P. D., Yeung, A. S., Kong, J., & Chen, K. W. (2018). Are mind-body interventions effective in osteoarthritis? A systematic review and meta-analysis. Arthritis Research & Therapy, 20(1), 1-12. doi: 10.1186/s13075-018-1582-3
Benito-Ruiz, P., Camacho-Zambrano, M. M., Carrillo-Arcentales, J. N., Mestanza-Peralta, M. A., Vallejo-Flores, C. A., Vargas-López, S. V., Villacís-Tamayo, R. A., Zurita-Gavilanes, L. A. (2009). A randomized controlled trial on the efficacy and safety of a food ingredient, collagen hydrolysate, for improving joint comfort. International Journalof Food Sciences and Nutrition, 60(Suppl 2), 99-113. doi: 10.1080/09637480802498820
Please note that the information contained within this website does not and should not replace medical advice, and is not intended to treat or diagnose. We always recommend you consult with your doctor. Our Nutritional Therapy team is highly trained and we offer one to one Nutritional Therapy Consultations, which are designed to be complementary to any medical treatment from a functional medicine approach, as well as offering a preventative & optimal health focus.