Inflammation and joint pain

I got a lot of response last week about my post on stretches and strengthening exercises for wrists. What were people asking?

  • How else can I help ease joint pain?

  • What if my joint pain isn’t in my wrists?

  • How can I help knee pain and elbow pain and ankle pain?

It’s definitely true that joint pain isn’t just in the wrists. And, as quite a few people pointed out, not all of it will be helped by stretching and strengthening. These exercises will provide some relief, and help to stave off long term damage, but to get to the root of pain, we will have to talk about inflammation.

Just for my readers: I have put together a list of my all time favorite anti inflammatory beverages. Warm or cold, these drinks will have you feeling great!

What is inflammation?

It’s the body’s way of signaling for the immune system to heal damage or defend itself against bacteria or other invaders. Without this response, wounds wouldn’t heal and infections would go unchecked. We definitely need inflammation, but when the response goes on too long, or if it occurs in places where it’s not needed, things start to go wrong.

There are 2 types of inflammation:

  1. Acute:  This is the type that I was describing above, the body responding to injury or infection. The body sends helpers to the site and begins to take care of the problem. This is a short term reaction, and the body’s system returns to normal after the crisis is handled.

  2. Chronic- This is the bad kind. Chronic inflammation is low level, long term, whole body inflammation.  This kind can be triggered by perceived internal threat, even when there isn’t a wound or infection to heal. The cells that show up to fight have nothing to work on, and sometimes end up attacking healthy organs or cells. Chronic inflammation has been linked to heart disease and stroke, as well as the development of many other diseases. (1)

Ok, now I know what inflammation is, but how does it affect my joints?

The kind of inflammation that affects your joints is inflammatory arthritis. I highly recommend this article for a full debrief on that.

What can I do about it?

Inflammatory joint pain responds very well to diet and lifestyle changes. Doctors say that movement and exercise are some of the best tools that you can use against inflammatory joint pain. This is good news for people who work in kitchens- no one can accuse us of having a sedentary lifestyle!  

Maintaining a healthy weight is important to feeling good. Did you know that for every 1 pound of body weight you lose, there is a 4 pound stress reduction on your knees? That kind of relief can add up fast! If losing extra weight is one of your goals, consider it a high priority if you also have arthritis or inflammatory joint pain. If you need some help figuring out how to make that happen, let’s set up a call to talk about your goals and how to reach them.

Another important factor is your diet. The foods you eat are either helping or hurting your joint pain. You have heard of an anti inflammatory diet, right? It consists of eating healthy, whole foods- vegetables, grains, nuts, seeds, healthy fats, proteins, and water.  

If you have joint pain, you need to seriously consider cutting way back on the following foods:

  • Red meat

  • Dairy

  • Alcohol and tobacco

  • Fried foods

  • Processed foods

  • Vegetable oils

  • Sugar

  • Nightshade vegetables including peppers and eggplant

  • Spicy foods

Yikes. All of the good stuff, right? How on earth can you accomplish this when you work in a restaurant?! You pack a lunch! I know I sound like a goddamn broken record with this pack a lunch stuff, but it really helps in so many areas of living a healthy life.

Which foods to eat more of?

  • Vegetables!

  • Dark leafy greens

  • Avocado

  • Fruits

  • Whole grains

  • Fish and other lean proteins

  • Berries

  • Nuts and seeds

  • Olive oil

Check out Dr. Andrew Weil, who is the king of the anti inflammatory diet for suggestions and to see his food pyramid.

Diet and lifestyle change can be a lot of work, and very challenging, but it makes a huge difference in your body and in your life. If you need a boost, get in touch to set up a free coaching call where we can take a look at what you have going on and find some solutions that will work with your life.

Laura McwilliamsComment