When we have a shoulder ache, often our first response is to reach for the bottle of ibuprofen or aspirin. While these over-the-counter (OTC) medicines can be helpful in easing joint pain fast, they do nothing to promote long-term joint and shoulder health. When thinking about treating shoulder pain, it’s important to think about protecting our joints and preventing injury in the long-term.
“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,” or so the saying goes. Over-the-counter anti-inflammatories may help once the pain begins — but today let’s look at some supplements, vitamins, and foods that can help protect our joints against future injuries, arthritis, and pain. Even better, many of these protective supplements can also ease pain once it’s already started!
Supplements for Joint Health & Shoulder Pain
- Fish Oil
Rich in Omega-3 Fatty Acids, fish oil provides many health benefits. One study shows fish oil can “reduce the intensity of joint symptoms, like morning stiffness, tenderness, swelling, and discomfort.”
Fish Oil contains Eicosapentatponic Acid (EPA) and Decoxahexaeonic Acid (DHA), which reduces inflammation in joints and limit the production of negative proteins that can cause arthritis. These healthy fats include natural chemicals that restore joint tissues, providing our joints with gentle lubrication to keep our joints from grinding on each other — which could lead to future pain or even arthritis.
Omega-3’s can also reduce cholesterol and help increase blood flow, which also eases pain, inflammation, and swelling. Taking a regular dose of fish oil should show results in around 12 weeks, and can help with everything from joint pain to gout, arthritis, and high cholesterol.
- Glucosamine and Chondroitin
According to the Sports Injury Clinic, these two supplements “can be used after any musculoskeletal injury to assist the body in repairing and manufacturing cartilage.” Chondroitin may allow for increased blood flow, by heightening the permeability of the body’s tissues and cartilage. As more blood flow increases, healing nutrients are more easily able to reach damaged parts within our joints.
Some studies even indicate Chondroitin can even slow down the progression of joint damage. It has anti-inflammatory properties, and offers an analgesic (pain-relieving) effect when used.
- Avocado Soybean Unsaponifiables (ASU)
With osteoarthritis (OA) on the rise in our senior population, researchers have begun looking for supplements to protect against joint degradation.
According to some studies, “ASU modulates OA pathogenesis by inhibiting a number of molecules and pathways.” In short, this supplement can protect cartilage, “reducing pain and stiffness while improving joint function,” resulting in decreased dependence on pain-relievers.
- Magnesium, Potassium, & Calcium
Each of these three minerals work together to protect your body against muscle cramps, stiffness, and pain.
- Magnesium has been found to decrease nerve pain, as well as decrease anxiety, shoulder rigidity, and spasms.
- Potassium eases cramps and promotes restful sleep.
- Calcium controls spasms and shoulder pain, and can help with bone density and muscle growth.
In fact, these minerals are so critical to our muscular well-being that some people complaining of “anxiety” or “muscle pain” were simply found to be low on these important minerals.
Magnesium can be found in avocados, and is also absorbed through Epsom salt baths. Bananas are great for potassium, and Calcium can be found in dairy products. Each mineral can also be found in supplement form.
- Vitamins C and E
These crucial vitamins act as antioxidants, which help cleanse the body of toxins that cause inflammation and pain. Vitamin C is a natural detox, and Vitamin E creates an anti-inflammatory response may reduce arthritis pain.
Studies show positive trends for Vitamin E’s effect on joint paint, saying it has “been shown to improve clinical symptoms and reduce free radicals.” Vitamin E has pain-relieving properties that can reduce dependence on medications.
- Vitamins B12 and B6
The “B-vitamins” are particularly important for bone and joint health. Vitamin B-12 promotes strengthening nerve cells and increasing bone density; while Vitamin B-6 can help increase serotonin, which can help ease chronic pain.
Turmeric is a powerful anti-inflammatory; in fact, studies show turmeric is just as effective as ibuprofen at easing inflammatory pain. Make this flavorful spice a regular part of your recipes–
Just be sure to include black pepper, too, as it helps your body absorb the pain-relieving properties of turmeric. Supplement capsules often include turmeric and black pepper together to maximize benefits.
For thousands of years, this root has been used for everything from headaches to stomach aches, and studies show ginger may be as powerful as OTC pain-relievers at easing pain and inflammation.
Ibuprofen and acetaminophen work by blocking inflammation, but ginger takes it a step further. According to research, not only does ginger block the formation of the inflammatory compounds prostaglandins and leukotrienes, it also has an antioxidant effect that breaks down existing inflammation and acidity in the fluid within the joints.
Supplements Specifically for Chronic Pain
For people who struggle with long-term pain, the following supplements are particularly important:
- Vitamin B6
- Vitamin E
- Vitamin C
- Fish Oil
Dr. Wilson Helps Protect Your Shoulder and Joint Health
Having spent years as a professional athlete himself, Dr. Wilson knows that healthy joints keep us at the top of our game. In fact, he’s helped keep the Chicago Bulls and soldiers of the U.S. Navy at peak performance.
Whether you’re a baseball athlete, beginner tennis enthusiast, or just want to be able to do yoga with your grandkids, your shoulders and neck are important to your quality of life. If you’re struggling with pain, let us help you get back to your best self! Book an appointment online, or call us at (919) 220-5255 to get started on your journey to joint health.