As a person who suffers from severe osteoarthritis in both hands, I would love to add or subtract something from my diet that would alleviate the piercing pain in my palms.
The short answer is “We don’t know,” but some studies have linked dietary factors to increased risk of aching joints. For example, some observational research suggests that higher intake of saturated fat, relative to unsaturated fats, is associated with progression of osteoarthritis. Conversely, higher intake of unsaturated fat was linked to less progression.
An author of one of those studies, Jeff Driban PhD, associate professor in the division of rheumatology at Tufts University School of Medicine, says it’s still an open question whether eating specific foods can counter osteoarthritis.
“There have not been any new findings recently,” Driban says, “but it’s true that key advice for osteoarthritis is maintaining a healthy body weight and being physically active.” Driban notes that a 5% to 10% weight loss can produce a significant improvement in osteoarthritis symptoms.
As for rheumatoid arthritis, research is extensive and ongoing to determine if dietary factors can alleviate the condition, which causes pain, disability and disfigured joints. Rheumatoid arthritis is an inflammatory condition, so foods or diets with anti-inflammatory properties, hypothetically, could have benefits.
“While there is no specific ‘diet’ that people with rheumatoid arthritis should follow, researchers have identified certain foods that may help control inflammation,” says Alicia Romano, MS, RD, LDN, Registered Dietitian, Frances Stern Nutrition Center, Tufts Medical Center. “Many of them are found in the Mediterranean diet pattern, which emphasizes fish, vegetables and olive oil.”
When googling for advice on “anti-arthritis” diets, watch out for claims that seem too good to be true, because they probably are. They include not eating nightshade vegetables, like tomatoes, eggplants and peppers; avoiding acidic foods or beverages; drinking cider vinegar (which is acidic, by the way); and avoiding dairy foods.
Instead of relying on pseudoscience, talk to your primary care doctor or arthritis specialist. Driban, vice chair of the Osteoarthritis Action Alliance, says you can find plain-language advice on weight loss and exercise for osteoarthritis here.
While there doesn’t seem to be an immediate answer to the problem of arthritis pain in diet, I have found several topical applications that five temporary relief to my arthritic hands.
A reader suggested CBD oil as one. I wrote about it in – My experience with CBD oil for arthritis pain. For the record CBD oil comes from the cannabis plant, but has no psychoactive affects. I bought mine from Amazon.
Managing arthritis in the hands is another of my posts on the subject.
Sometimes people cut down on exercise because of arthritis pain. Check out Is it okay to exercise with arthritis?