Knee arthritis pain can be debilitating and destroy your quality of life. At a time when we should be enjoying life, simple activities become a challenge.
Prevention over a lifetime is, of course, the easiest answer, but by this time it’s water under the bridge. So we have to rely on doing what we can do going forward. The easy answer is to turn to mainstream medicine for drugs to help arthritis pain. This is a very, very bad road to go down, despite the fact that this is the path most choose.
Why? Well, for the full story, you can purchase my NSAIDs Dangers eBook, which can be purchased by clicking here. For the Cliff’s note version, not only do they increase the risk of suffering a heart attack (remember the Vioxx debacle where tens of thousands died?) but they will likely will make your arthritis pain worse.
Worse? Yes—anti-inflammatories can make arthritis worse by stopping the ability of the cells of your joints to heal from everyday wear and tear. Worse, they stop the course of inflammation, not allowing it to complete the cycle. You essentially get stuck in inflammation without resolving it.
Then, of course, there is surgery. Outcomes are generally pretty good following a knee replacement surgery, but I personally feel that the bulk of these can be avoided. After all, research suggests that more knee surgeries are being performed, but not because there is more arthritis present. Tells me that there are other things going on besides the arthritis we are finding on MRI and X-ray.
That pretty much leaves natural approaches as your best options.
First on the list, given my bias, are soft tissue approaches like Graston technique, Active Release Technique, Neuromuscular Re-education or Fascial Manipulation. In our office, we have had very strong success using these techniques along with therapies like whole body vibration.
Next are natural anti-inflammatories like turmeric / curcumin, ginger or glucosamine / chondroitin.
Essential to the success of any natural knee osteoarthritis treatment is exercise. The research has been very strong on this aspect of natural treatment approaches. Exercise clearly improves symptoms of knee osteoarthritis, both strength training and aerobic.
But this particular article brings to light something even more powerful than exercise. Dietary changes leading to weight loss. Researchers looked at 454 overweight or obese participants who were at least 55 years of age to see what effects exercise, diet or the combination of the two had on knee joint compressive force, plasma IL-6 levels (as a marker of inflammation), self-reported pain, self-reported function, mobility and health-related quality of life. Here’s what they found:
- 399 participants (88%) finished the study.
- Weight loss for diet + exercise group averaged 11.4%, 9.5% for the diet group and 2.0% for the exercise group.
- After 18 months, knee compressive forces were lower in diet group than the exercise group, despite less weight loss.
- IL-6 were lower in diet + exercise and diet participants than the exercise alone group.
- The diet + exercise group had less pain, better function and better physical health-related quality of life scores than the other two groups.
Overall, it appears that dietary changes leading to at least a 10% weight loss over the course of 1 ½ years is a very powerful tool in the management of symptoms of knee osteoarthritis. Now, this may require a tad bit more work on your part than just popping a pill, but it’s certainly easier than having the bones of your knee sliced off with Black and Decker power tools and titanium hardware implants replacing the original equipment and screwed in using carpentry techniques like countersinking, followed by weeks and weeks or painful rehab providing the outcome is successful and no infection sets in.
Yup. Making some simple dietary changes sounds rough.