Joint pain is believed to affect as many as 1 in 4 Americans every year. But before you surrender to a sedentary life or a long list of painkillers, know that there is hope. Sometimes relief can come about in the way of daily stretches or buying a new mattress. But did you know even changing your diet could deliver respite from pain? In fact, some natural pain relieving solutions may already be in your kitchen cabinet. Learning to find the right combination of what works for you is key. Changing diet, developing a sustainable exercise routine, and determining helpful supplements is a safe long term pain relief plan that doesn’t hurt to try.
Diet: When we feel sick or sluggish, a shift in diet is usually one of the first stops on the road back to good health. So why not try the same approach when it comes to joint pain? Joint pain can be brought on by injury, arthritis, inflammation or even a virus. To help with inflammation, certain spices such as turmeric and ginger have been used. Cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, kale, brussel sprouts and cauliflower are filled with antioxidants that are believed to help with joint pain as well. Another helpful diet addition you may have heard of is fish oil. Fish oil is naturally found in salmon, trout, and sardines. Vegan options include foods such as chia seeds, flax seeds and soybeans. This oil helps lubricate the joints, and prevent morning stiffness.
But for every diet addition it is worth mentioning foods that should be avoided. Refined sugars and grains such as white bread, pasta and rice are thought to increase inflammation and contribute to increased pain levels. Trans fat and partially hydrogenated oils are thought to be another contributor. In addition Omega 6 fatty acids found in corn oil, vegetable oil, sunflower oil, peanut oil and grapeseed oil, are among other foods to avoid. The over consumption of these ingredients, (commonly found in highly processed foods) can damage more than just your cardiovascular system. Another reason to skip the drive thru!
Exercise: When experiencing joint pain, the last thing you want to do is exercise. Or is it? According to the CDC, using a low impact form of exercise 3-5 times a week can actually help minimize certain types of joint pain, especially rheumatoid arthritis. Light aerobic exercises such as swimming, walking, yoga and strength training can be excellent options for relieving pain and improving muscle control. These exercises help with not only joint stiffness and muscle tightness, but with mental health factors. Exercise helps to lower the body’s stress hormones adrenaline and cortisol, and increase the body’s natural pain killers and mood boosters called endorphins. An endorphin high can leave you feeling positive, energized, excited and ready to take on the world.
Supplements: Before you pop your next pain reliever, consider this. Chronic use of NSIDs over a long period of time can lead to increased risk of stroke, ulcers, blood clots and heart attack. The solution can be as easy as your ABCs. Andrographis, Boswellia and Cissus that is. Andrographis has been used in ayurvedic medicine and ancient Chinese medicine for years. It’s best known as an immune system booster and joint health aid through several successful clinical trials. Boswellia extract, also known as Indian Frankincense, has similar advantages in that it too has been shown to support healthy joints in multiple studies. But with the added benefit, it also supports skin elasticity! BONUS! Cissus is another helpful herb for joint support that has been used in traditional Indian medicinal practices for centuries. It has been known to help with infections, as well as promoting bone and tissue healing.
When pain is at its peak, it's hard to believe you could ever find relief. It’s important during intense pain to learn how to listen to your body and learn how to put yourself in a state of relaxation and calm. This can be easier said than done. But through practice, You can learn how to train your body to release the unwanted tensions of the day. Make tranquility your new mantra, and in time you will learn how to break the pain cycle and take back your life. It’s time to live pain free again!