Could Your Diet Be Contributing to Your Joint Pain?

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When you have arthritis, inflammation makes joints stiff, swollen, and painful — and the foods you eat could be making that inflammation worse. Learn what to avoid and what to add to your diet to fight joint pain.

More than 58 million Americans live with arthritis. It’s a condition characterized by inflammation, and it’s the leading cause of chronic joint pain in the country.

Inflammation is your body’s natural reaction to injury and infection. Damaged tissues release specific chemicals that trigger your body’s healing mechanisms, and in small amounts, inflammation serves an important function.

But when tissues and joints stay inflamed for too long, it begins damaging your body over time. With arthritis, this inflammatory response only serves to make your joints stiff, swollen, and painful.

Right now, there’s no cure for arthritis — but you do have treatment options. Maher Ibrahim, MD, and our team at Interventional Pain Management Associates take a comprehensive approach to arthritis care to help you manage joint pain.

Your arthritis treatment plan can include at-home remedies, physical therapy, joint injections, and one critical component that’s often overlooked: your diet. While diet alone may not cause joint pain, certain foods and ingredients can increase inflammation in your body and make your existing joint pain feel worse.

Here’s what you need to know about how your diet and arthritis pain might be connected.

Avoid foods that increase inflammation

Experts aren’t sure exactly how your diet affects your body’s inflammatory response. However, research shows that certain types of foods increase inflammatory markers in your blood, and increase your risk of chronic inflammation.

Some of the most common foods and ingredients that increase inflammation and worsen joint pain are:

Sugar and refined carbohydrates

Sugar consumption increases inflammation in your body, and it’s linked to increased arthritis pain. Evaluate the amount of sugar in your diet by reading food labels carefully, and look for ingredients like dextrose, fructose, glucose, and sucrose.

Refined carbohydrates are typically grains that have the fiber removed, and they stimulate inflammation in your body. You can find refined carbs in products made with white flour, white potatoes, white rice, and certain cereals.

Artificial trans fats

Trans fat is a type of fat often used in fried and processed foods, like baked goods and french fries. You can find it in ingredient lists on food packages as “partially hydrogenated” oils. Trans fat is created by adding hydrogen atoms to oils, so it’s an artificial, chemically altered type of fat.


Gluten is a protein found in grains, like wheat, barley, and rye. It’s one of the most common food sensitivities, and if you have a gluten sensitivity, it can trigger an inflammatory response that worsens joint pain. 

Add foods that decrease inflammation

If you have arthritis or another type of joint pain, Dr. Ibrahim works with you to develop a holistic treatment plan. As part of your program, he evaluates your dietary needs, and he may recommend adopting an anti-inflammatory diet.

Just like certain foods increase inflammation in your body, others can fight inflammation and help reduce joint pain. 

Some foods known for their anti-inflammatory benefits are:

  • Fruits like berries, grapes, cherries, and avocados
  • Vegetables like broccoli and mushrooms
  • Fatty fish
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Nuts
  • Cocoa and very dark chocolate
  • Spices like ginger and turmeric

Coupled with other treatments and lifestyle changes, an anti-inflammatory diet can help reduce joint pain and stiffness from arthritis.

Ready to get started? Call our office in Hamilton, New Jersey, at 609-757-9860 or schedule an appointment online now.