Joint pain is a well- known affliction. Most often arising as a natural consequence of ageing, it is also common amongst those who engage in heavy exercise.
Maintaining healthy joints is a key concern for both groups, but the pharmaceutical solutions for joint pain do nothing to prevent it from arising in the first place, and often have unpleasant side effects when taken long term.
Here we take a look at the most common causes of joint pain, and nutritional tips that may help to both prevent and treat them.
Causes of joint pain
The two most common causes of joint pain are inflammation in the surrounding tissue, and erosion of the joints themselves. They are what lie behind the most common causes of joint pain – rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis respectively.
What causes the former is still uncertain although it is thought to be an auto-immune disorder. The latter is clearer – osteoarthritis most often presents itself as a result of simple wear due to use over time (ageing) or heavy use (intensive exercise).
Given the causes of rheumatoid arthritis are unclear, there is little to be done to prevent it. The most common method of treating it is long-term use of NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) such as ibuprofen. However, this can lead to negative side effects such as stomach ulcers, and as such are not ideal for long-term use.
A natural alternative that may have the same effect is Omega 3. Better known for its role in preventing heart disease, Omega 3 may also have anti-inflammatory effects similar to NSAIDs, but without the side effects.
The recommended (in the UK) two portions of fish (particularly oily fish) a week are with a view to maintaining high levels of Omega 3 in the body, but it is also obtainable through dietary supplements such as fish oil or vegetarian sources such as flaxseed.
Between every joint there are connective tissues such as cartilage and tendons that provide padding between the bones, as well as dedicated padding at the end of each joint in the form of collagen.
These naturally wear down over time or as a result of heavy exercise. As they do so, the joints themselves can start rubbing together, causing pain and difficulty moving.
Glucosamine and collagen are fundamental ingredients of the connective tissues and padding respectively, so it would make sense that by maintaining high levels of both would assist in production of this vital joint protection.
Neither are present in our diets, and must be taken as supplements. Glucosamine is usually sourced from shellfish coverings (so be careful if you are allergic to shellfish) while collagen comes in the form of Marine Collagen – a supplement first popularised in Japan that has various sources, all of them fish.
These often come in combined supplements and may help to slow the deterioration of joint protection over time by assisting its natural production.
Nick Lewis is a writer specialising in natural health issues, including supplements such as Glucosamine. For more natural supplements, visit Higher Nature.