Your joints and muscles have a tough time walking you – quite literally – through every stage of life. Think about it – walking, running, typing, squatting, carrying, lifting…every one of these movements relies on your joints.
As you get older the connective tissue that acts as a shock absorber to your joints gets worn down. This is completely normal, but it can increase the friction in your joints and prompt joint pain.
The hand is one of the most common sites of pain and osteoarthritic change in older adults and the prevalence of osteoarthritis of the knee, hip, and hand increases with age. According to Arthritis Research UK, back pain affects four out of five of us at some point during our lives, and arthritis affects 10 million people in the UK who are living with the condition.
Conventional treatment for muscle and joint pain is anti-inflammatory drugs known as Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen. These work in a specific way by relieving pain and inflammation but unfortunately long-term use of NSAIDs can cause heartburn and gastric ulcers.
As well as diet and lifestyle there are a number of natural products on the market to help relieve joint pain.
A new product is now available in the UK called Phynova Joint & Muscle Relief Tablets which is the UKs first Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) with a Traditional Herbal Medicine (THR) registration granted by the UKs Medicines & Health Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA).
Phynova Joint & Muscle Relief Tablets contain an extract of a plant called Sigesbeckia, which has a long history of safe use for relieving a wide range of musculoskeletal pains all around the world, with the first recorded use dating back in 659AD in China. For the past 30 years, it has been used in Europe, where it is now a registered Traditional Herbal Medicine for the relief of backache, rheumatic pain, joint and muscle pain, as well as minor sports injuries based exclusively on long-standing use as a traditional medicine.
Sigesbeckia is said to be gentle on the stomach and does not have the same gastric side-effects as NSAIDS, plus there are no known contra-indications so it can be taken alongside other medications although it is always advised to check with your GP.
Clinical researcher and Phynova Chief Operating Office, Andrew Gallagher says, “Modern, published clinical research has shown that Sigesbeckia orientalis has analgesic, anti-inflammatory antioxidant and cartilage protective effects and is shown to be effective in reducing joint swelling, inflammation and pain in arthritis patients.” Phynova Joint & Muscle Relief Tablets are available from Phynova Joint Relief £19.99 for a month’s supply and can also be bought from Boots*, Holland & Barrett, Amazon* and independent pharmacies.
Dr Dick Middleton, registered Pharmacist and director of the British Herbal Medicine Association says, “The aerial parts of the herb Sigesbeckia orientalis are commonly used in traditional Chinese medicine to treat rheumatic conditions such as arthritis, pain in the joints and muscles, and backache. Modern, published clinical research has shown that Sigesbeckia orientalis has analgesic, anti-inflammatory antioxidant and cartilage protective effects and is shown to be effective in reducing joint swelling, inflammation and pain in arthritis patients.”
It is important to always choose a herbal product that displays the THR herbal medicine symbol which gives assurance of the quality of the product. Always read the in-pack leaflet before using. For more information on herbs for health, visit British Herbal Medicine Association BHMA.
Arnica contains lactones which, in the herbal format, contribute to an anti-inflammatory effect. The lactones intervene at the core of the inflammatory process by inhibiting the production of an inflammatory substance known as Nuclear Factor Kappa Beta (NF-kβ). NF-kβ is a protein complex that plays a key role in regulating the immune system’s response to infection and tissue damage. Arnica works by preventing the activation of this inflammatory substance at the very start of the inflammatory process.
Try Atrogel Arnica Gel, 100ml £11.99 from A.Vogel also available at Boots*, Holland & Barrett, Amazon* and health stores. Containing the fresh herb extract of Arnica Montana, Atrogel is a traditional herbal medicinal product for the symptomatic relief of muscular aches, pains and stiffness, sprains, bruises and swelling after contusions, exclusively based upon long-standing use as a traditional remedy.
Nettles have long been used by medicinal herbalists to help reduce the formation of uric acid build-up in the joints. They can also help to support and maintain bone health by promoting the absorption of calcium into bones. Nettles additionally have diuretic properties, helping to eliminate waste and acidic compounds, making this beneficial in tackling gout-related symptoms!
Try A.Vogel Stinging Nettle Urtica Drops, 50ml £10.50 available from A.Vogel and health stores. An organically grown, botanical food supplement made from freshly harvested Urtica doica herb.
Healthspan Medical Director Dr Sarah Brewer’s takes a look at CBD Oil which is taking centre stage this year and has also been recommended for joint pain. A natural ingredient from industrially produced hemp plants (meaning they’ve been cultivated so we can access the benefits of CBD without any of the psychoactive elements of THC).
Dr Brewer says, “CBD hemp extracts are antioxidant and have anti-inflammatory effects on joints, to help improve pain and stiffness. They also have pain-relieving effects due to their interaction with certain parts of the brain”.
Try Healthspan High Strength CBD Oil* – 30 capsules 192mg £13.95 The recommendation is to start low and slow, with the lowest dose, then build it up and find the right dosage to suit your needs
You might think exercise is the single easiest way to damage your joints when, in fact, it’s not. Exercise strengthens the muscle surrounding your joints – giving you more support and preventing cartilage degradation.
You should aim for at least 150 minutes of exercise per week– around 30 minutes per day – or more. There are plenty of joint-friendly aerobic activities out there such as swimming, aqua-aerobics, walking, low impact dance, tai chi and cycling. Resistance work, lifting weights or using weights machines at the gym, as well as stretching in the form of yoga or Pilates helps with strength, too.
Recently you may have seen Dr Michael Mosely have the impact on his joints tested comparatively during running and walking on TV. Interestingly – contrary to what many have been believed for a long time – running is not harder on your joints than walking so it’s a perfectly sensible option to contribute to your weekly exercise.
Nutritionist, Emma Thornton, and Alison Cullen, Nutritional Practitioner at A.Vogel also offer dietary advice. “Our diet really is important when it comes to our joints because an accumulation of uric acid in the joints will make movement far more uncomfortable, and different foods can increase or reduce the build-up of uric acid,” says Alison Cullen.
Nutritionist, Emma says, “Foods that provide you with sources of magnesium, omega-3 essential fatty acids and vitamin C will help reduce muscle tension and painful inflammation and promote tissue health.”