You suffer from joint pain. You may have an official diagnosis of arthritis, or you may suspect you have arthritis. It may have gotten worse, or even been triggered by COVID-19. If you’ve visited your doctor for relief, you’ve likely been told to take anti-inflammatories and that you will need to “live with it.”
Here’s what Functional Medicine tells us: Arthritis and joint pain — whether it’s autoimmune or osteoarthritis — is an inflammatory condition that can be treated through finding and treating the root causes of inflammation which include food, healing the gut, and mitigating the effects of stress. The answer to joint pain is not “take anti-inflammatories and live with it.”
This is why Dr. Susan Blum wrote her bestselling book, Healing Arthritis – she’s on a mission to help millions of sufferers heal their joint pain. Since its release she has helped literally thousands of people learn that arthritis is NOT inevitable, and that by following her 3-step Arthritis Protocol, arthritis and joint pain sufferers will be on the road to living a pain-free life.
Here are 4 ways you can address your joint pain starting now
Heal your gut. Hard Stop.
Your gut microbiome, the 100 trillion or so bacteria that live within you, are key players in the health of your immune system and a healthy gut is mandatory for preventing and treating any inflammatory disease. It’s clear that healing the gut to heal the joints is a valid, scientifically supported approach to treating arthritis. In fact, hundreds of research studies and articles have been published in the past decade proving the gut-arthritis connection, and showing us how system-wide inflammation begins deep inside your digestive system.
How do you heal your gut? Through using food as medicine, mitigating your stress response and using supplements to support your gut microbiome. Read on to learn about each of these.
Make pain-free food choices
In fact, the single most important influence on reducing your pain is the food you eat!
Here’s what you need to do:
Increase the number of healthy foods you are eating.
- Your grocery list should include antioxidant rich dark leafy greens like spinach, kale, swiss chard; and deep, colorful berries like blackberries and blueberries.
- Make a habit of eating clean fish once or twice weekly, it’s full of inflammation-lowering omega 3 fatty acids. Buy high-quality, grass-fed, non-GMO animal products and eat them sparingly, perhaps once each week.
- Eat loads of healthy, high-quality oils and fats like olive oil, avocado, nuts and seeds.
- Fit lots of fiber onto your plate in the form of whole grains, legumes and veggies — to feed the good bacteria of the gut. (Avoid gluten if you know you are sensitive to it, or if you have autoimmune disease).
- Spice your foods with turmeric, the bright yellow indian spice that’s not only delicious but also combats inflammation.
Avoid inflammatory foods
This includes highly processed foods made with white flour and white sugar, and practically everything that comes in a box. Avoid processed flour products like baked goods and cookies, and sweetened dairy products like ice cream. Shop the perimeter of the store – buy real, whole foods in their natural state.
Even better, we highly recommend following Dr. Blum’s Leaky Gut Diet for Arthritis, which eliminates known arthritis triggers for a period of time, and then reintroduces them in a methodical way to create your personal nutrition plan. You can learn more about it in Healing Arthritis, or join us for the Healing Arthritis Challenge.
Powerfully deal with stress: Less stress = less pain.
When it comes to arthritis, the impact of stress is largely overlooked. However, stress and trauma have serious consequences on your gut, your immune system, and your arthritis pain. Improving your resilience in the face of stressors will keep your arthritis from flaring.
How to destress:
- Simplify your schedule. If you are suffering from arthritic pain this is a cry for help from your biological system. Give yourself time and space to renew and rebuild the resilience that you are lacking. Open space in your week to just be.
- Find time for sleep. Make sure you are getting over 8 hours of sleep a night. Work backwards from your wake-up time and get into bed 1 hour prior to that. Make a routine at bedtime that is relaxing and supportive – take a bath, sip some tea, read a pleasant book. Avoid screens 2 hours prior to bed and help the whole family get on board. Doing things with support makes them much easier!
- Make room for movement. You don’t need to add a strenuous exercise routine right away unless you find that that helps your pain, but work towards getting there. To start, just make a plan to have a short walk outside, or put down your yoga mat and gently stretch and move your body beyond the confines of the standing and sitting of your normal day. If you’re feeling more ambitious, try a yoga or tai chi class for meditative movement.
- Book a massage – or other bodywork – for pain relief and stress reduction. Acupuncture, craniosacral, myofascial release are all good options to check out.
- Explore mindfulness meditation. This can be a simple as listening to a guided meditation on an app or with our Blum Center recordings. It can be more regimented like finding an MBSR or TM class in your area and starting a daily practice. It can also be as simple as breathing in and out throughout your day with intention.
- Consider therapy. The stress and trauma from past experience sometimes holds us back from being able to let go of tension in the body. We know that past traumatic experience leads to worse pain and function in autoimmune disease – and we’ve found that addressing it can lead to improved symptoms.
Utilize anti-arthritis supplements to decrease pain.
There are several supplements that have been scientifically proven to decrease inflammation and pain. These are some of the supplements Dr. Blum outlines in her book, and that we utilize in the Healing Arthritis Challenge with specific, exact dosing:
- Omega 3 (EPA and DHA) & Omega 6 (GLA) Fatty acids – these powerful anti-inflammatory fats have been found to reduce pain and improve physical function in Rheumatoid Arthritis.
- Curcumin – this plant-derived antioxidant and natural anti-inflammatory has been found to reduce pain and stiffness in Osteoarthritis.
- Vitamin C – the link between oxidative stress and joint damage is clear. Vitamin C (and other antioxidants) have been shown to reduce pain (and oxidative stress) in inflammatory joint disease.
- Probiotics – when we think about joint health, our attention naturally turns to the gut and the health of the microbiome (the bacteria that live in the digestive tract). Improving the balance of the terrain in your gut with a good probiotic can help with the arthritic pain and inflammation throughout the body.
The great thing is you don’t have to do this alone!
If you want someone with you every step of the way, if you love the power of community, please consider joining me and Dr. Blum for the Healing Arthritis Challenge. Dr. Blum will teach you the exact 3-Step Protocol that we use with patients at Blum Center for Health. You will learn the best food plan for arthritis, the precise supplements and dosage we recommend for an arthritis-free life, how to build resiliency so that life’s stressors won’t affect your health, and what your gut has to do with your arthritis symptoms. In essence, Dr. Blum gives you all the tools you need to fix your gut and heal your arthritis. And I’ll be with you every step of the way! Show Me More
To recap, the 3 actions you can start right now to decrease your arthritis pain is 1) eat an anti-arthritis diet 2) take the appropriate supplements and 3) learn to be resilient to stress. Do these things and you will feel better with less pain and much more energy.
Meet Melissa: Melissa Rapoport is the Manager of Health Coaching and Lifestyle Programming at Blum Center for Health in Rye Brook, NY. She combines her graduate work in Developmental Psychology with her education in nutrition, health and coaching to create highly individualized programs that result in lifetime change. A contributing author to three international bestselling books, Melissa’s greatest joy is her relationship with her two daughters.