Winter is just round the corner, and it’s the time of year when many of us start to experience joint discomfort. For those of us with occasional discomfort the cold and damp weather seems to bring it out like never before. For those of us with persistent pain, winter weather can make things worse.
But you don’t need to suffer in silence; as it turns out there are all sorts of natural therapies that can help to reduce joint discomfort. Here are some of the most popular options…
Get in Shape
We all know that we should be getting regular exercise, but how many of us really get the recommended levels? At the time of writing experts recommends that every adult should get two and a half hours of moderate cardio each week (such as walking or cycling) and that we should undergo resistance training that works all major muscle groups. For many of us, with our busy lives, that is an awful lot of exercise.
If you need a little encouragement, however, you might be interested to learn that there is a wealth of evidence to suggest that regular exercise can also go a long way to reducing joint pain. There are believed to be a number of ways in which exercise can help in this regard:
Supporting Your Joints
When we exercise regularly our muscles respond by getting stronger. Stronger muscles, in turn, can help to take pressure off our joints. Think of it rather like wearing a support bandage; with reduced joint pressure the discomfort that many of us feel is reduced.
Supporting Healthy Weight Loss
It should be no surprise that the heavier we are, the more pressure gets put on joints. Experts believe that this pressure can not only worsen joint pain, but that it can also lead to joints degenerating sooner. Getting in shape and shifting those extra pounds can therefore be a great way to improve your condition.
Use Heat or Cold
Hot or cold temperatures have both been shown to reduce feelings of pain, though in fairness the effects are normally quite short-lived. If you suddenly find yourself dealing with short term joint pain, however, you could do a lot worse than enjoying a toasty warm bath or resting a bag of frozen peas on the affected area.
Invest in a Proper Mattress
According to recent statistics, lower back pain is the fifth most common reason for seeking medical assistance. The impacts of lumbar discomfort can be huge, affecting every aspect of our lives.
Studies have shown that many popularly recommended treatments such as lumbar supports have little or no evidence behind them. In contrast, however, scientists have found that investing in a firm, supportive mattress is one of the most effective ways to reduce such joint pain.
Go Meat Free
Time for a little science. One of the most common reasons for pain in the joints is down to inflammation. Whilst short-term inflammation does have its benefits, when this becomes a chronic condition it can be truly debilitating. Finding ways to relieve this inflammation and swelling can in turn help to reduce feelings of joint pain.
Some interesting research has been done recently on how diet can affect joint inflammation. One chemical that is believed to directly impact inflammation levels is known as “arachidonic acid”. This is found primarily in foods of animal origin, such as meat, cheese and milk. Impressive reductions in joint pain have been experienced when sufferers were put on a vegan diet. Going meat free might not just be good for the environment, therefore, but also has the potential to help relieve feelings of joint discomfort too.
Supplements have become very popular with individuals suffering from joint pain. Two of the best-known of these are fish oils and glucosamine…
Fish oils are rich in omega 3 polyunsaturated fatty acids. These “good” fats have been found to help reduce inflammation in the body. Fish oils like cod liver oil or krill oil are often recommended for individuals with high cholesterol levels, as they are believed to prevent inflammation in the arteries, helping to keep blood flowing smoothly.
However there is also evidence to suggest that fish oils can be beneficial for joint pain. It seems that the fatty acids they contain may help to block the action of chemicals known as prostaglandins, which are responsible for inflammation. Comparisons between the effects of fish oils and more traditional anti-inflammatories suggest that the impact can be very similar. The evidence suggests that taking cod liver oil capsules or enjoying a regular dose of oily fish in your diet may be a rather more natural way to support healthy, pain-free joints.
Glucosamine is a naturally-occurring element in our bodies, but as we age the levels may drop. Supplementation with glucosamine is therefore a practical way to top up your normal levels. But what does glucosamine actually do?
In one study patients suffering from pain in their knees were given either glucosamine sulphate or ibuprofen for a period of eight weeks. Pain scores were assessed throughout the trial. The findings suggest that in the first two weeks, the individuals taking ibuprofen experienced greater reductions in pain. However, as the experiment wore on the impact of glucosamine continued to increase. By the experts summarized that glucosamine had actually had a larger impact than more traditional painkillers, even if it had taken a little more time for these benefits to arise.
Speak to Your Doctor
If you’re suffering from recurring joint pain it is crucial to speak to your doctor. It may be that they are able to identify the cause of your problem, and suggest a suitable therapy. Booking a consultation also means that you can discuss alternative therapies and ensure that any treatments you undergo at home won’t interfere with other medications you may be taking.
This article was produced in conjunction with Simply Supplements, who offer a wide range of different supplements for joints.