Knee pain and inflammation
Struggling to get out of bed in the morning, not being able to keep up with the kids and let’s not forget about the apprehension of going for a run, knowing you’ll be paying the price for days afterwards. Knee pain is not only a physical ailment, but it can stop you from doing the things you love which can dampen your mood, too. It can adversely affect your day on so many levels, and due to another lockdown, many people are finding the lack of movement is exacerbating the problem.
There are several causes of knee pain, but each one is affected by inflammation to some degree. First, let’s take a look at some of the most common types of knee pain:
Osteoarthritis - osteoarthritis is the most common type of arthritis in the UK, and the knee is one of the most commonly affected joints. It is caused by the wearing of the cartilage, resulting in pain and stiffness which can make movement difficult. Many people also experience symptoms such as tenderness, swelling and a crackling or grating sound when the joint is used (1).
Rheumatoid arthritis - the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis are very similar to that of osteoarthritis, such as pain, stiffness and mobility issues. However, rheumatoid arthritis is an inflammatory autoimmune condition and as such, people often experience other general symptoms including tiredness, high temperature and weight loss (2).
Tendonitis - this is caused by inflammation of the tendon in the knee, through overuse or injury. While painful, as long as adequate rest and treatment is used, the condition is usually temporary (3).
Bursitis - again, another condition caused by inflammation, but bursitis refers to inflammation of the bursae. These are small fluid-filled sacs which cushion the joints. As an inflammatory condition, the symptoms include pain, swelling and tenderness (4).
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What is inflammation and how does it affect knee pain?
Inflammation is a natural response by the body's immune system; when it registers that it is under attack, whether that be by a bacteria or an injury, chemicals are released to fight the attack and heal the body. This response results in several symptoms commonly associated with the above conditions, such as pain, swelling, redness, heat and loss of function (5). While in the short term this is beneficial - for example if you cut yourself - if this continues over a longer period, known as chronic inflammation, it can cause ongoing pain and mobility issues. Luckily, if chronic inflammation is addressed, it can be extremely helpful for many types of knee pain (6). Here are my top tips for tackling inflammation and reducing knee pain:
Eat a low inflammatory diet. This means choosing a variety of colourful fruits and veggies, nuts, seeds, wholegrains and oily fish - the Mediterranean diet is a perfect example of a low inflammatory diet. To read more about it, head over here.
Reduce inflammatory foods, such as alcohol, sugar, refined carbohydrates, processed foods and gluten and dairy in some cases. While you don’t need to cut them out entirely, reducing your intake can have a huge impact on inflammation levels.
Rest when you need to and use ice on your knee to reduce inflammation. This will in turn reduce swelling and pain and support movement.
For extra support, try including an anti-inflammatory supplement to help reduce inflammation. DEFLAME contains curcumin, ginger and omega-3 which all have natural anti-inflammatory properties. To read more about DEFLAME, head over here.
1. NHS. 2019. Osteoarthritis. Available at: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/osteoarthritis/ (accessed: 28th January 2021)
2. McInnes, I.B. et al. 2017. Pathogenetic insights from the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis.TheLancet,389(10086):10-16
3. Harvard Medical School. 2014. Tendonitis. Available at: https://www.health.harvard.edu/diseases-and-conditions/tendonitis (accessed: 28th January 2021)
4. Arthritis Foundation. 2021. Bursitis. Available at: https://www.arthritis.org/diseases/bursitis (accessed: 28th January 2021)
5. Chen, L. et al. 2018. Inflammatory responses and inflammation-associated diseases in organs. Oncotarget, 9(6):7204-7218
6. Arthritis Foundation. 2021. Causes of inflammatory joint pain. Available at: https://www.arthritis.org/health-wellness/healthy-living/managing-pain/understanding-pain/causes-of-inflammatory-joint-pain (accessed: 28th January 2021)