When it comes to taking care of your joints, you’ve got to be ... um ... flexible. Not only will you need a decent understanding of your condition but also a willingness to do something about it.
Of course, depending on your joints, that something includes the right kind of diet, rest and exercise. Hey, you might have to cut back on coffee, booze, moguls or mud wrestling. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves, we’re here to talk about which supplements can help the joints.
Joint issues vary greatly. For some, the knees or shoulders get a little sore after exercise or tight from sitting, while others have chronic joint pain. No matter what the joint condition, the irritation and pain, swelling or stiffness is almost always accompanied by or caused by some kind of inflammation. That common ending, “itis,” means inflammation. Here’s a little more on the top three “itis” conditions.
Arthritis – osteoarthritis and rheumatoid. Osteo is the wear-and-tear type including deteriorated or damaged cartilage that causes friction and pain in the joints. At worst, we’re talking bone-on-bone. Check out the Mayo Clinic for more. Rheumatoid is an autoimmune disease that results in chronic inflammation of the joints and accompanying pain. For a detailed discussion of rheumatoid arthritis, check out this MedicineNet article.
Bursitis. Little sacs of fluid in the joints called bursae act like shock absorbers and protect the bones from friction, but damaged or inflamed bursae, usually from injury, can be very painful. Find out more at the Mayo Clinic.
Tendinitis, or tendonitis. Similar to bursitis, tendinitis is inflammation of the tendons from overuse, injury or infection causing pain and immobility. The infamous tennis elbow and swimmer’s shoulder are examples of tendinitis. The Mayo Clinic has more info.
Which supplements can help?
A variety of supplements can help joints. Most reduce pain and/or inflammation, and some can help heal and even rebuild joint tissues. The healing part is important because in mainstream medicine often painkillers are prescribed, which take care of the pain for a minute, but the joint damage remains.
Omega-3 fatty acids, found most effectively in fish oil and krill oil, seem to be good for just about everything. When it comes to joint health, they have been found to reduce inflammation and pain in rheumatoid and osteoarthritis. Other preliminary research suggests that omega-3s might play a part in the building of joint cartilage. Supplement sources of omega-3s include krill oil, fish oil, green-lipped mussel oil, flaxseed and flaxseed oil, chia seed and hemp oil.
Acai, the South American palm tree, yields a fruit juice rich in antioxidants. The Journal of Medicinal Foods published a study in which 14 subjects who drank 120 mL of acai juice per day for 12 weeks were evaluated for joint pain through interviews, range of motion assessments and interviews. Subjects experienced reduction in pain and range of motion throughout the 12 weeks of the study.1
For an excellent detailed, scientific review of the many natural solutions for joints, read “Osteoarthritis and Nutrition. From nutraceuticals to functional foods: a systematic review of the scientific evidence.”
– Chris O’Brien
1. Jensen GS, et al. Pain Reduction and Improvement in Range of Motion After Daily Consumption of an Açai (Euterpe oleracea Mart.) Pulp–Fortified Polyphenolic-Rich Fruit and Berry Juice Blend. J Med Food. Apr2011.
Disclaimer: The information provided in this forum is a public service of WellWise.org, and should not in any way substitute for the advice of a qualified healthcare professional and is not intended to constitute personal medical advice.