With autumn now bringing colder temperatures, many Australians will be looking for ways to best manage their joint pain.
Seasonal changes can bring with them fluctuating degrees of pain, so it is vital to relieve that pain.
According to Arthritis Australia as many as 3.8 million Australians suffer from varying degrees of joint pain, which can result in swelling, stiffness and weakness in and around the joints.
According to Amcal's Accredited Practising Dietitian Megan Alsford, one of the most effective ways to help relieve joint pain, particularly in the lower joints, is to maintain a healthy weight.
“We have found that weight management is a very effective method of reducing pain from knee and hip joints, which is not surprising when just 1kg of excess weight adds an additional 4-5kgs of pressure on the lower joints,” Ms Alsford said.
Amcal Senior Pharmacist James Nevile also explained that in addition to weight loss programs such as Amcal’s Be Good To Yourself Program, there are a number of other everyday tactics Aussies can use to help minimise joint pain and related stress.
“We all too often ignore the early signs of joint pain, and as the change of season approaches, it’s a timely reminder to check in on your personal health. There are a number of easy and simple ways to manage pain and while a number of these ways provide short term relief, we also encourage all Aussies to undertake long-term measures,” he said.
“As most pain sufferers know, if you do experience persistent pain it’s still important to seek support from a GP or pharmacist to understand the full spectrum of relief options available to you.”
To help you get on the right track, Mr Nevile suggests these simple ways to manage joint pain, while Ms Alsford shares some helpful ways to decrease weight and improve joint pain.
Taken correctly, anti-inflammatory medicines can significantly help to manage pain. In addition, anti-inflammatory medication is also known to reduce common symptoms of joint pain, such as swelling.
When it comes to choice, there has never been a better time to find suitable anti-inflammatory medication, with a large number of options available to suit all customer needs, says Mr Nevile.
“For those seeking alternative medicines, there are a number of herbal and natural options which may offer a suitable way to minimise pain and discomfort,” he said.
Ms Alsford added: “Nutritionally, foods known for their anti-inflammatory properties can provide additional benefits to traditional treatments. For example, omega-3 oils, turmeric and oleocanthal found in extra virgin olive oil have been shown to reduce inflammation and are good additions to the diet.”
Heat and cold packs
Heat and cold packs are one of the easiest and most popular ways to help relieve pain.
Using a cold pack immediately after an injury can help reduce swelling and inflammation while numbing the acute pain from a sprain or strain. In contrast, heat packs can help increase blood flow 48 hours after an acute injury and provide relief for ongoing issues such as backaches and period pain.
“The easiest way to avoid consistent muscle pain is by getting up and moving. Even something as simple as walking around the block or around the house can help to relax your muscles and when used in conjunction with cold and heat packs, may significantly reduce symptoms associated with joint pain,” says Mr Nevile.
Get support with your weight loss goals
Ms Alsford understands losing weight can be hard even if it’s just wanting to shed a few kilograms. With so many diet options available, it’s easy for us to feel overwhelmed and initially disappointed with our weight loss progress especially if your chosen diet under-delivered on the results.
However, for best results look for programs that don’t eliminate whole food groups and include realistic exercise regimes while providing ongoing support, she suggests.
“Also remember, you won’t need to lose large amounts of weight to feel improvements in knee and hip pain and a slow and steady weight loss will more likely have lasting health benefits.
“Proven weight loss programs such as Amcal’s Be Good To Yourself Program (BGTY) are a great starting point because they give information and advice that translates into manageable steps for the everyday grind.
“We found in a recent program undertaken by Australians who trialled the BGTY program, that 95% of the participants with joint pain felt an improvement in their pain after just 12 weeks.
“Even better, some participants who needed joint replacement surgery no longer required the surgery after losing weight on the BGTY program and some no longer felt pain at all, saving the Australian healthcare system between $231,361 - $546,091 in surgical costs amongst the participants. At a national level, this can save our public system upwards of millions.”
“The results of reduced joint pain and in some cases the complete removal of pain seen in the study were so positive, they were better than results experienced through surgery.”
Often not included in many how-to-guides relating to joint pain, you may be surprised at just how much meditation can assist joint pain management.
“More often than not, the effects of joint pain are described in physical terms like soreness and stiffness. While these are the more common ways in which joint pain affects Australians, what often goes less noticed is the mental impacts of such pain,” Mr Nevile said.
“Meditation and mindfulness may provide a natural way to manage the anxiety around chronic pain, as well as helping to minimise depression commonly associated with on-going joint pain issues.”