Pain Relief With Diet

Here's extra incentive if you've been thinking about losing weight: Shedding excess pounds could help reduce the risk of pain.

"If you're overweight and de-conditioned, your joints take a major hit, because of the increased poundage that your joints have to carry," says Elton Strauss, MD, chief of orthopaedic trauma and adult reconstruction at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City.

There are plenty of weight loss programs available, but keep in mind that regular physical activity and a nutritious, well-balanced diet are proven methods for weight loss.

On the other extreme, being underweight or weight loss with a poor diet and inactivity can exacerbate pain. "Your hormone levels are off," explains Lisa Dorfman, MSRD, a sports nutritionist and spokeswoman for the American Dietetic Association (ADA). Normal flow of hormones can help the body combat aches, and activate the body's own healing systems.

Dorfman says people need not become vegetarians for pain relief. She suggests limiting intake of animal protein and saturated fat, and beefing up on foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids, antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals.

Christine Gerbstadt, MD, RD, another spokesperson for the ADA, agrees. She also suggests eating more whole grains and organically produced foods. She says steroid hormones and preservatives may negatively stimulate the immune system.

Pain Relief With Dietary Supplements

There is promising evidence that two types of dietary supplements -- Chondroitin sulfate and glucosamine -- may help relieve pain associated with osteoarthritis. Yet more research needs to be done on their long-term safety and effectiveness.

Side effects of chondroitin are rare, but could include headache, motor uneasiness, euphoria, hives, rash, photosensitivity, hair loss, and breathing difficulties. People with bleeding disorders or those taking blood thinners should consult with their doctor before taking the supplement.

Side effects of glucosamine include upset stomach, drowsiness, insomnia, headache, skin reactions, sun sensitivity, and nail toughening. Some glucosamine products may be made with shellfish, and may cause adverse reaction in people with shellfish allergies.

Bioelectric Therapy

Some arthritis patients may find some pain relief with bioelectric therapy. "The people who benefit from bioelectric therapy are people who tend to have mild muscle pain," says Wilson, noting that people with joint inflammation, such as those with rheumatoid arthritis, may not get as much benefit.

In bioelectric therapy, a dose of electric current is applied to the skin to help distract the brain from sensing pain. The therapy tries to overload the brain with sensations to divert its focus on the original source of pain.

There may be skin irritation and redness as a result of bioelectric therapy. This strategy is not recommended for people who have a pacemaker, are pregnant, have blood clots in the arms and legs, and have a bacterial infection.

Strauss at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City, warns against its use. "I don't think there are studies out there that show it works," he says.

Live a Healthy Life

In some cases, your physician may suggest combining nonmedicinal options with drug therapy. Try not to rule out medication altogether. The ideal goal of pain relief treatment, after all, is not just to alleviate suffering, but also to keep you alive and healthy.

Remember: The simplest -- yet often the most challenging -- strategy for pain relief involves eating right, sleeping enough, exercising, and managing stress. "If you look at pain management skills, they are nothing more than good living skills," says Cowan. "If we don't live our life and really pay attention, the pain overcomes us."

Source WebMD Feature

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