Cherry juice may help: Those suffering with knee problems osteoarthritis who drank eight ounces of tart cherry juice 2 a day for six weeks had improvements in pain and function. This was found in a 2013 study.
Sardines may help: These fatty fish (and others, like salmon, trout, tuna, and mackerel) are chock-full of omega-3 fatty acids, which help fight inflammation.
Olive oil may help: A study published in the journal Nature found that a compound in extra-virgin olive oil called oleocanthal has anti-inflammatory effects similar to those of ibuprofen.
SUGARY DRINKS CAN HURT
Sugary drinks can hurt: Women who drink at least one sugary soda a day have a 63% greater chance of developing rheumatoid arthritis (RA) than those who don’t, according to a Harvard study.
STEAK CAN HURT
Steak can hurt: Another Harvard study found that diets high in red and processed meat can increase the risk of RA—possibly because they trigger an inflammatory reaction inside the body.
REFINED GRAINS CAN HURT
Refined grains can hurt: People who ate the most refined grains had the highest levels of an inflammatory protein in the blood, revealed a study published in The Journal of Nutrition.
RAIN MIGHT EQUAL PAIN
A few common truths—and lies—about pain you should know.
The weather also can affect your pain: Maybe. People with hip osteoarthritis reported increased pain and stiffness when humidity and barometric pressure rose, according to 2014 Dutch research. But a 2017 Australian study looking at lower back pain and knee osteoarthritis found no weather-related link.
Your heart health can impact your joints: Possibly true. A 2016 Australian animal study found that high cholesterol appears to cause the breakdown of cartilage cells—and may ultimately lead to osteoarthritis. The finding makes sense, since high cholesterol is connected to inflammation, which affects the joints.
Cracking your knuckles causes arthritis: False! Several studies on habitual knuckle crackers have found no evidence that the habit leads to a higher risk of osteoarthritis. That “pop” you hear are bubbles bursting in the synovial fluid that keeps joints lubricated. But there is one reason to cut back on cracking: Some research has linked it to swelling in the hands and decreased grip strength.
WHAT TO KNOW ABOUT FIBROMYALGIA
There’s no simple test for fibromyalgia, a common cause of musculoskeletal pain among women between 20 and 55. Doctors make the diagnosis based on a clinical exam: “One of the criteria is widespread pain throughout your body—meaning on both sides and/or above and below your waist—for at least three months,” says Houman Danesh, MD, director of integrative pain management at the Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City. First-line treatment is often lifestyle changes, like reducing stress and exercising regularly. Your doctor might also prescribe meds, such as antidepressants, to help ease pain and fatigue; antiseizure drugs, like pregabalin, may also be effective.
WHAT TO KNOW ABOUT TAKING OPIOIDS
Opioid medications, like oxycodone and codeine, attach to opioid receptors in the brain and body to reduce the perception of pain. They can also produce feelings of euphoria and relaxation, and they can be highly addictive, warns addiction specialist Indra Cidambi, MD, medical director of the Center for Network Therapy in Middlesex, New Jersey. So take them only when you really need to, she advises—if you’re in crippling agony after an accident, say, or you just had major surgery. In general, limit your use of these drugs as much as possible: “Most of the time, for acute injuries, you don’t need it for more than a few days,” says Dr. Cidambi. If your doctor wants to give you an opioid for longer than a week, ask whether there are other options
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