Whether you're dealing with discomfort caused by arthritis, an injury or exercise, certain foods may help relieve the pain you're feeling in your knees, legs or back. Foods such as salmon, cherries and berries and soy, as well as spices such as turmeric, contain substances that help reduce inflammation and offer relief from pain. That said, food cannot take the place of real medical treatment. So consult your doctor to figure out how diet can work in combination with your treatment plan.
Salmon is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which help reduce inflammation. The University of Maryland Medical Center reports that people with rheumatoid arthritis felt that their joint pain and morning stiffness was reduced as a result of regular supplementation with omega-3 fatty acids. This also led to a decrease in their use of pain-relieving medication. Eating two 4-ounce servings of salmon a week may help increase your omega-3 intake and help reduce the pain in your legs, knees or back. If you don't like salmon, try tuna, herring or sardines to get more omega-3s in your diet. Alternatively, snack on some walnuts, flaxseeds, pumpkin seeds or soybeans.
Anti-Inflammatory Cherries and Berries
The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics advises people to reduce inflammation by making cherries and berries a regular part of their diet. A 2010 study published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition found that regular consumption of tart cherry juice helped reduce post-run muscle pain in a group of male runners. The antioxidants, specifically the anthocyanins, in the cherries and berries are believed to be responsible for reducing pain and inflammation, according to a 2011 article published on the AARP website. Those same anthocyanins are found in other berries, including strawberries, raspberries, blueberries and blackberries.
Better With Soy
A 2004 study published in Phytomedicine investigated the effects of soy protein on knee pain in a group of people with osteoarthritis and found that the soy helped reduce the pain and improve quality of life. The AARP website says the isoflavones in the soy may be responsible for the pain relief. You can up your intake of soy protein by replacing your cow's milk with soy milk, snacking on edamame or using tofu in place of your usual protein in a stir-fry.
Turmeric for Pain
Turmeric is a yellow spice most often associated with curry. Curcumin, which is the active substance in turmeric, has anti-inflammatory properties. A 2014 study published in Clinical Intervention in Aging found that the spice also helps manage pain in people with osteoarthritis. In addition to curry, you can up your intake of turmeric to help relieve pain in your legs, knees or back by adding the spice to soup, stews or grain salads.
- AARP: 7 Pain-Fighting Foods
- Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics: Inflammation and Diet
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Omega-3 Fatty Acids
- Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition: Efficacy of Tart Cherry Juice in Reducing Muscle Pain During Running: A Randomized Controlled Trial
- Phytomedicine: Soy Protein May Alleviate Osteoarthritis Symptoms
- Clinical Interventions in Aging: Efficacy and Safety of Curcuma Domestica Extracts Compared With Ibuprofen in Patients With Knee Osteoarthritis: A Multicenter Study