Help, I’ve Got Joint Pain!
3 Natural Treatment Options
Q: As I’m getting older, I notice more joint stiffness and some pain, especially in my knees. I’ve always been active, and want to be able to stay active. What can you suggest for joint support?
A: Stiff, achy, painful joints are a growing concern for many. First and foremost, make an appointment with your physician to assess the cause of the knee pain. Is it rheumatoid arthritis? Osteoarthritis? Ligament injury? Understanding the cause of the pain is important to treating the pain. Follow this up by regularly performing the medically recommended exercises and stretches that support and improve joint health. Never underestimate the power of icing the affected area when inflamed and rest for proper recovery. When there is inflammation, pain often follows. Consider running a food sensitivity test through your ND to identify foods that trigger inflammation in your body, to help curb further pain and tissue damage.
Additionally, you may benefit from a natural anti-inflammatory such as curcumin or Omega 3 fatty acids to help balance out inflammation and decrease pain, or Natural Eggshell Membrane (NEM) which is a natural source of ingredients that support joint health. Speak to your MD or ND before taking any natural health products to ensure proper use and safety.
Curcumin is the medicinally active component of Turmeric root. This polyphenol has been shown to have numerous health benefits, in part, due to its ability to target various signalling molecules and work at the cellular level. Potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects are curcumin’s most recognized therapeutic qualities and may be helpful for concerns such as headaches, inflammatory skin conditions, fibromyalgia, depression, Alzheimer’s disease, and joint pain to name a few. However, curcumin suffers from bioavailability issues (absorption and metabolism). Supplement companies have made great strides to improve its absorption by decreasing its particle size, emulsifying it, pairing it with piperine or a combination of the above.
Omega 3 fatty acids are essential to human health. They play a vital role in biological functions such as cellular growth and division, cell-to-cell communication, and gene expression. Not only does the body need these fatty acids to function, but they also exert some important health benefits on the cardiovascular system, pregnancy, memory, mood, vision etc. Omega 3s have also been shown to reduce inflammation in the body and in turn improve pain management. However, the body lacks the enzymes required to synthesize Omega 3s and therefore humans are dependant on ingesting sufficient amounts in the diet. Sources of Omega 3 fatty acids are cold water fatty fish like salmon, flax seeds, chia seeds, hemp hearts, omega 3 rich eggs, and omega 3 supplements such as flax oil, algae oil, or fish oil.
NEM naturally contains ingredients that are known to help support joint health, which include collagen, glucosamine, hyaluronic acid and chondroitin sulphate, as well as other supportive proteins and peptides. Studies have demonstrated that NEM may improve symptoms such as joint pain, stiffness and impaired mobility.
Dr. Michelle Pobega, ND, runs a naturopathic practice near the Annex neighbourhood of Toronto. Stay connected with her at drmichellend.ca, Facebook and Twitter @MPobegaND