If you are in need of joint pain relief — whether from an injury or some form of arthritis — you know what a miserable experience it can be. Hobbling everywhere gets old quickly, as does taking pain relievers every few hours. But what are the alternatives? I???m happy to tell you that several natural substances can ease arthritis pain, reduce the inflammation that goes with it, and even rebuild damaged cartilage so other joints don???t succumb to the disease.
Unfortunately, these remedies are not as well known as they should be. As a result, too many people choose joint replacement surgery without fully understanding the downsides of this risky, failure-prone procedure. Is there a better way to handle the all-too-common situation of sore, creaky joints? Yes, there is! Actually, there are several safe, natural supplements that ease pain without the cost and complications of joint replacement. Some of these supplements can protect your other joints from further damage.
Ways to Avoid Joint Replacement Surgery
- If you???re carrying around a few extra pounds, look into a sensible weight loss plan. Even losing as little as five pounds can make a big difference for sore joints.
- Schedule daily exercise, such as 20- to 30-minute-long walks. Being active not only enhances weight loss efforts, but helps strengthen and lubricate joints, too.
- Deal with depression. Research has shown that people who are feeling down are more likely to experience pain and less likely to exercise, creating a vicious cycle that leads to increasing immobility.
- Consider supplements that have been shown to relieve pain and/or help maintain healthy joints, such as omega-3 essential fatty acids, curcumin, and UC-II.
The Trouble with Joint Replacements
Nearly one million joints are replaced in this country every year, and many of those operations have good outcomes ??? but not all of them. Infection, blood clots, and joint loosening or dislocation are fairly common. There have also been a number of problems with replacements, including mechanical failure of the new joint. And even when the artificial joint is fully functioning and the surgery is free of complications, the patient still needs pain relievers, daily assistance, and weeks of physical therapy, with no assurance that he or she will ever be able to return to normal activity levels.
In addition, since many replacement joints are not under warranty, you have very little recourse if yours turns out to be faulty, other than repeating the surgery and hoping for the best.
Maintaining Your Joints
Clearly, maintaining the health of your own joints is a far better approach. Here are four steps that can help:
1) Aim for a Healthy Weight
Excess weight is one of the key causes of joint pain. In fact, a recent study concludes that being overweight may trigger the internal changes, like inflammation, that set the stage for arthritis.
So it makes sense that losing weight can ease the stress on joints, as well as the pain. Fortunately, many of the foods that encourage weight loss, such as fruits and vegetables, provide antioxidants, key nutrients needed for healthy joints.
Losing just five pounds can ease the burden on your joints. That???s a reasonable, achievable goal that many of my patients reach simply by eliminating sugar from their diet. As a bonus, you???ll be healthier overall with less sugar in your life.
2) Be Active
Recommending exercise for patients whose joints are sore is a tough sell. But there is clear evidence that being active makes joints healthier. Simple everyday movement ??? walking, bending, going up and down stairs, for example ??? accomplishes two things. First, it increases blood flow to the joint, providing it with nutrients while removing waste material. Second, activity helps muscles both strengthen and relax. As a result, pain and stiffness often decrease when the joint is active.
But what about the pain caused by movement? Curcumin supplements have been shown to not only support joint function and flexibility but also to ease pain as effectively as a standard dose of acetaminophen, according to a new report in the Journal of Pain Research.
3) Fight Depression
Depression is not ???all in your head.??? Feeling down can affect your entire body, including joints, making them unusually sensitive and setting up a vicious cycle: Painful joints limit activity, while being sedentary often leads to depression, and on it goes.
The solution is simple ??? get moving! I realize it may take extraordinary effort on your part to follow through. Exercise is the last thing people who are depressed and in pain want to do. But trust me ??? it pays off. Just start with a short, brisk walk every day and gradually increase your distance.
Walking provides your body with healing oxygen and mood-lifting substances known as endorphins, while lubricating joints, and reducing inflammation. This is why exercise has repeatedly been shown to be as effective as antidepressants without any of the side effects. Boost those results with omega-3 EFAs. Among their many benefits, these good fats have been shown to improve mood as well as fight inflammation, making them one of the top choices for healthy joints.
4) Supplements Can Help
As you may know, the ends of your bones meet at the joints, where a tough material known as cartilage and other substances provide cushioning. These cushions can be worn down by hard labor, intensive exercise, and aging.
Research has shown, however, that certain substances help rebuild cartilage. For example, UC-II, a cutting-edge collagen supplement, actually stops cartilage deterioration caused by destructive enzymes. My own product, Joint Renewal, combines UC-II with a patented, proprietary form of curcumin for pain relief, so you can maintain activities while supporting good joint health. Together, these substances have been shown to be more than twice as effective as glucosamine and chondroitin.
As you can see, joint pain does not have to limit your activities or make your life miserable. As my patient, William, discovered, combine safe, natural supplements with simple lifestyle changes and you???ll be on your way to pain-free movement.