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  • Writer's pictureDr Daniel Mogoai

Arthritis 101: Understanding the Basics of Joint Pain

Updated: Apr 7, 2023

Are you an athlete struggling with Arthritis? As much as your focus may be on exercises and medications, what you eat can also significantly impact your condition. With the proper diet, you can help manage your arthritis symptoms and get back to doing what you love.

Arthritis is a very common condition affecting ~43 million people worldwide, including athletes. While there is no cure for Arthritis, there are ways to manage its symptoms.

These include manual therapy, exercise, and avoiding certain foods that can trigger inflammation, pain, and stiffness.

In this blog post, we'll discuss the cause, types, treatment options and foods to avoid if you have Arthritis and offer some healthy alternatives that can help manage the condition.

It’s always important to remember these are general tips only, and for personalised treatment options you should reach out to a medical professional, such as a Dietitian or Osteopath.

An image of a woman holding her wrist, and is suffering from Arthritis
Arthritis is a condition due to joint discomfort or disease. This isn't just a single disease and should not be ignored.

This blog post contains the following:

  • What is Arthritis

  • Types of Arthritis, Symptoms and Diagnosis

  • What are the treatment options for Arthritis?

  • Foods To Eat and Avoid If You Have Arthritis

What is Arthritis

Arthritis is a condition in which the joint experiences acute or chronic inflammation.The symptoms can range from pain and stiffness to inflammation and limited mobility, which can significantly impact an individual's daily life. The two most common types of Arthritis are Osteoarthritis and Rheumatoid Arthritis.

Raising awareness about Arthritis is crucial to improving the lives of people suffering from this condition. By increasing awareness, more people can become informed about the symptoms, treatments, and potential therapies available.

For athletes with Arthritis, awareness is particularly important. By understanding their symptoms and the available treatments, athletes can take the necessary steps to manage their condition and continue pursuing their passion for sports.

An image of woman's knee suffering from Arthritis
Rheumatoid Arthritis and Osteoarthritis are the two most prevalent kinds of Arthritis.

Our Dietitian and Osteopath are here to support you on your journey to better health. Schedule a consultation today.

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Types of Arthritis, Symptoms and Diagnosis

Osteoarthritis (OA) affects the cartilage that protects the ends of bones from impact and wears away over time. It is a declining condition that causes pain and stiffness.

Some people with osteoarthritis may experience only occasional discomfort or stiffness, while others may experience constant and severe pain affecting their daily activities.

Certain factors, such as weather changes or physical activity, can also exacerbate the pain associated with Osteoarthritis.

The risk factors involved with OA include:

  • Aging

  • Genetic mutations

  • Surgery or joint trauma

  • Previous injury

  • Obesity

  • Female gender

There are primary and secondary forms of Osteoarthritis. Primary OA occurs without the presence of injury or trauma and is the most common. The risk factors that predispose a person to primary OA are typically muscle weakness, female gender and obesity.

On the other hand, secondary OA is predisposed to joint abnormalities. These may be injury or joint trauma or less common abnormalities such as infectious Arthritis, congenital joint disorders and avascular necrosis.

An image body parts that most commonly seen Osteoarthritis
Osteoarthritis: Common Sites

Rheumatoid Arthritis is an autoimmune condition in which the immune system assaults the joints, causing swelling and discomfort. This can be very painful, with the body's immune system attacking the lining of the joints, resulting in pain, swelling, and stiffness.

The pain associated with RA is typically described as a deep, aching pain that worsens in the morning or after periods of inactivity. The pain can also be accompanied by stiffness and tenderness in the affected joints, making it difficult to move or use them.

Image of hands with deformities caused by Rheumatoid Arthritis
Rheumatoid Arthritis, attacking the joints and slowly deforms the affected body part.

RA can have detrimental effects on quality of life with 40% of people having a functional disability within 10 years of being diagnosed.

Risk factors of RA include:

  • People with the HLA-DRB1 gene

  • Aging, most commonly seen between 65-80 years

  • Female gender

  • Western diet

  • Smoking

  • High BMI or obesity

Additional forms of arthritis include reactive, gouty, and psoriatic, each with different symptoms and diagnostic standards. A physical examination, imaging studies, or blood tests to check for inflammation or autoimmune activity can all be useful for diagnosis of Arthritis.

Working closely with an Osteopath will assist with the management of your symptoms and keep up your fitness levels if you have Arthritis.

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What are the treatment options for Arthritis?

The ultimate goal in managing symptoms of Arthritis is to maintain a high quality of life and reduce any impact on daily living.

Arthritis treatment options vary depending on the type and severity of the condition. Natural remedies, medications, and lifestyle changes are all possible treatments.

Natural remedies, such as exercise, weight loss, and hot and cold therapy, can help alleviate symptoms.

Medications like pain relievers, anti-inflammatory drugs, and disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs) such as methotrexate, are commonly prescribed to manage pain and joint inflammation.

Lifestyle changes, such as adapting to your work and home environment can help reduce joint stress.

If you’re experiencing joint stiffness and pain and suspect you may have Arthritis, It’s important to receive an accurate diagnosis from a medical professional such as an Osteopath, Physiotherapist, or General Practitioner, as treatment may vary depending on the type of arthritis.

For more up-to-date information on treatment options and diagnosis you can refer to the NICE guidelines.

Foods To Eat and Avoid If You Have Arthritis

Processed and fried foods:

Processed and fried foods can trigger inflammation and worsen Arthritis symptoms. These foods are usually high in unhealthy fats, sugar, and salt, which can lead to weight gain and increased inflammation. Instead, choose foods that are high in omega-3 fatty acids, including:

  • Fatty fish like sardines, tuna, salmon, and mackerel

  • Flaxseeds and chia seeds

  • Walnuts

  • Soybeans and tofu

  • Shrimp and oysters

  • Grass-fed beef and dairy products

  • Brussels sprouts and kale

  • Hemp seeds

These foods help your diet if you consume more omega-3 fatty acids, which have been associated with a number of health advantages, including lowering inflammation and enhancing heart health.

Red Meat

Red meat is known to have high saturated fat and can cause inflammation in the body. This can worsen Arthritis symptoms and increase the risk of developing other health problems. Try replacing red meat with lean protein sources, such as chicken, turkey, and fish.

Dairy Products

Some people with Arthritis may be sensitive to dairy products, especially those that contain casein and lactose. These compounds can cause inflammation and pain in the body. If you have symptoms of Arthritis, try cutting less on dairy products or switching to non-dairy options like soy or almond milk.

Carbs That Have Been Refined

Choosing refined carbohydrates, such as white bread, pasta, and rice, can cause a spike in blood sugar levels, leading to inflammation and joint pain.

Instead, choose whole grains, such as brown rice, quinoa, and whole-wheat bread, which are high in fibre and nutrients that can help reduce inflammation.

Conclusion: While there's no one-size-fits-all diet for Arthritis, avoiding certain foods and incorporating healthy alternatives can help manage the condition and improve overall health.

By reducing inflammation and providing essential nutrients, a balanced diet can help people with Arthritis stay active and function better. Consult with a healthcare professional or a registered Dietitian for a personalised nutrition plan.

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If you're struggling with managing your diet and nutrition, our accredited practising Dietitian can help. Book an appointment now to get on the path to a healthier you.


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