The most common collective complaint of my patients this time of year is most definitely joint pain.
As we've discussed many times, joint pain is usually caused by inflammation in the body. Weather changes can also affect joint pain.1 Let's talk about 4 ways to ease winter joint pain:
1. Keep Warm
Allowing yourself to get cold – and especially, chilled, can make your body tense up and become stiff. Stay warm! Dressing with layers is usually the best way to go so you can easily adjust to your surroundings (whether it be cold, drafty, warm, or with that friend who always has the heat blasting). Also, don't forget to keep your neck warm as a stiff neck can turn into a headache.
2. Stay Active
Many people tend to huddle up in a corner when the weather gets colder, which is okay sometimes. We automatically equate being "warm and cozy" to being sedentary with a big blanket over us. However, being sedentary for long periods of time is never good, and can certainly exacerbate winter joint pain!
Staying active will keep your blood circulating properly and thus the lymphatic fluid, which moves wastes and toxins through your body.2
3. Modify Your Diet
Avoid Inflammation-Causing Foods
For some individuals, foods that increase the markers of inflammation (and thus increase joint pain) are: gluten, dairy, eggs, peanuts, soy, sugar and potatoes. Also, coffee has an inflammatory effect for people with the “bad coffee gene” (the CYP1A2 gene variant, which we will address in another blog post). Bear in mind, it takes 2-6 weeks to realize any benefit from changing your diet when it comes to joint pain. However, once you start feeling better from changing your diet, you'll want to continue with the positive changes!
Add Omega 3 Fatty Acids
Omega 3 fatty acids take the body down a more anti-inflammatory pathway in the manner of metabolism of fats.
Some examples of food containing omega 3 fatty acids: fatty fish such as sardines, herring, mackerel, salmon and tuna (don't overdo salmon and tuna as they contain mercury). Pregnant women or women trying to become pregnant should eat no more than 8 ounces of albacore tuna each month.3Doctor Emi is currently formulating a new, pure, burp-free fish oil supplement!>
Some vegan sources of omega 3 fatty acids are: walnuts, pumpkin seeds, flax, sea weed, and chia and hemp seeds to a smaller extent.
Unfortunately, the American diet consists of mostly omega 6s (corn oil, safflower oil, sunflower oil, soybean oil, and really anything that is labeled “vegetable oil” in the super market) which actually create more inflammation in the body!
4. Dietary Supplementation
Curcumin Rapid Absorb
I have a patient who practically lived on acetaminophen for joint pain until she began taking Curcumin Rapid Absorb. She now often talks about the huge difference it has made for her. Keep in mind, acetaminophen depletes your body of a VERY important antioxidant called “glutathione,” which protects your body from free radical damage. Free radical damage causes oxidative stress which triggers age-related diseases and premature aging in general. Curcumin Rapid Absorb naturally takes your body to a less inflammatory place by blocking the Cox-2 receptor (which is responsible for inflammation). Curcumin Rapid Absorb can help normalize joint function and mobility. Again, bear in mind, it works over time. Curcumin should be avoided by anyone taking blood-thinning medication or aspirin.
Vitamin K2 with D3
Vitmain D is paramount where joint health is concerned. Vitamin D deficiency “classically results in bone disease,”4 and can worsen the pain in individuals who already suffer with joint problems.5 As we've said before, many people in the Pacific Northwest are deficient in vitamin D because of the lack of sunlight. It only goes to reason that if your bones and joints are healthy, they're most likely not going to be painful! It is prudent to take a combination of Vitamin K2 with D3 because they work synergistically: the vitamin K2 directs calcium into the bones (where it belongs) and away from the arteries (where it doesn't belong) thereby assisting the vitamin D3 to be more effective. I advise my patients to never take Vitamin D without its co-factor K2 (Vitamin K2 with D3). Please read our blog post regarding this important synergistic partnership>>>.
Working with your body to help itself heal by keeping warm, staying active, avoiding inflammation-causing foods and utilizing the foods and dietary supplements (listed above) is far healthier and certainly more effective in the long term than living on any type of drug, and especially narcotics which are highly addictive. Of course, narcotics have their place (such as immediately after surgery) but long-term use of narcotics also actually make you more sensitive to pain over time.
The Doctor Emi Team
1. Guedj D, Weinberger A. Effect of weather conditions on rheumatic patients. Ann Rheum Dis 1990;49:158-159 doi:10.1136/ard.49.3.158 Accessed on October 16, 2016. (BMJ)
2. Zimmermann KA. Lymphatic System: Facts, Functions & Diseases. LiveScience. March 11, 2016. Accessed on October 16, 2016. (LiveScience)
3. Fish Oil. Arthritis Foundation. http://www.arthritis.org/living-with-arthritis/treatments/natural/supplements-herbs/guide/fish-oil.php Accessed on October 16, 2016. (Arthritis)
4. Thacher T, Clarke B. Vitamin D Insufficiency. Mayo Clinic Proceedings, Volume 86, Issue 1, 50 - 60. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.4065/mcp.2010.0567. Accessed on October 16, 2016. (MayoClinic)
5. Haque U, Barlett S. Relationships among vitamin D, disease activity, pain and disability in rheumatoid arthritis. Clinical and Experimental Rheumatology 2010; 28: 745-747. Received on December 1, 2009; accepted in revised form on May 18, 2010. Accessed on October 16, 2016. (CER)