Joint Problems: Prevention and Treatment
Joel Peterson – Level 5 Personal Trainer Apple Athletic Club
Over decades of being a Personal Trainer to hundreds of clients I have been aware of a very real problem and, therefore, have studied extensively for the cure. Namely, JOINT PAIN, JOINT STIFFNESS AND JOINT DISEASE. Whether you are a committed daily exerciser or a weekend warrior you will eventually be faced with joint problems. So, what can we do to prevent and treat them?
FISH OIL AND OMEGA 3 FATTY ACIDS
You may be taking fish oil to help prevent heart disease or because you heard it helps with depression, or because it decreases the occurrence of dry eyes. But did you know that fish oil can also increase joint mobility? Fish oil contains the omega-3 fatty acids, eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). EPA and DHA are the two fatty acids that have been studied extensively for their ability to decrease certain cardiovascular risk factors, notably blood pressure and triglycerides.
Supplement Fish Oil Can Enhance Joint Mobility
Omega-3s enhance joint mobility through a few different mechanisms.
- EPA and DHA may decrease inflammation. Studies show that EPA and DHA are more effective than ALA for decreasing several inflammatory markers. EPA and DHA also increase some anti-inflammatory markers such as IL-10, TGF beta.
- Omega-3 fatty acids may decrease the progression of osteoarthritis. EPA and DHA inhibit the expression of various proteins that contribute to osteoarthritis. In addition, petri dish studies indicate that ALA and EPA decrease both the destruction and inflammatory aspects of cartilage cell metabolism.Omega-3 fatty acids are incorporated into cartilage cell (chondrocyte) membranes. In a dose-dependent manner, they decrease enzymes that degrade cartilage and inflammatory cytokines (IL-1alpha, TNF alpha, COX-2,) thereby affecting cartilage cell gene transcription.
- Omega-3s may decrease risk of bone marrow lesions. A study in 293 adults without osteoarthritis, some with and some without knee pain, found that higher intakes of monounsaturated fatty acids or omega-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids were associated with an increased risk of bone marrow lesions.This study lends further support to the recommendation to balance fat intake and shift toward foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids while decreasing intake of omega-6 fatty acids.
- Omega-3s help other aspects of joint health. Omega-3 fatty acids may decrease symptoms of morning stiffness, tender or swollen joints, and joint pain. They can also help increase blood flow during exercise.
Ethically I cannot recommend a particular brand of Fish Oil Supplementation, although I highly suggest that you look for a supplement that is from oceanic deep cold water fish such as salmon. Avoid any supplement that does not specify that on the label. There are many inexpensive brands out there and they are just that – inexpensive. As in everything else, quality matters. And especially when it comes to putting things in our own bodies. Personally, I’d rather be frugal on everything external and be very judicious on what becomes me.
Next week we will explore other methods we can incorporate in our daily lives to enhance the health of our joints.
Note: My thoughts on joint health were greatly intensified when I had a total knee replacement two years ago due to an earlier accident. It gave me an increased awareness of how important our joint health should be. I also learned a lot from my physical therapy that I apply today for all my joints.