It is believed there are more than 8.5 million Britons suffering crippling pain in their joints, however there is still a lack of effective therapies to halt progression of the condition. The vast majority of sufferers will resort to painkillers to ease their symptoms. In recent years however, a growing body of research has highlighted the medicinal effects of dietary fibre to ease pain in the joints. One study found that fibre could halve the chances of agonising symptoms developing.
The findings were based on data extracted from two US studies, involving a total of 5,000 adults diagnosed with osteoarthritis.
Researchers set out to investigate whether dietary fibre could have an influence on the risk of knee arthritis, symptoms of knee osteoarthritis and worsening knee pain.
They analysed data from more than 5,000 patients with osteoarthritis, who were followed for 48 months and then assessed 9 years later.
Among the 4,051 men and women in the osteoarthritis Initiative, those in the top quarter for dietary fibre intake had a 30 percent lower risk of painful knee osteoarthritis than those in the bottom quarter.
The second part of the analysis was from the Framingham Offspring cohort study, which included 971 participants for whom dietary fibre data were also available.
For both studies, dietary fibre intake was measured using Food Frequency Questionnaire responses.
Zhaoli Dai, from Boston University School of Medicine, and colleagues wrote: “Such results support the current recommended daily fibre for older Americans.”
Analysis of the data showed that eating more fibre is associated with a lower risk of osteoarthritis knee pain, compared with those who took less fibre.
Furthermore, among patients with osteoarthritis, higher intake of fibre and cereal fibre were associated with significantly lower risk of worsening knee pain.
The findings revealed that those who ate a fibre rich diet were 61 percent less likely to go on to develop symptomatic osteoarthritis .
Scientists believe plant compounds could destroy the chemicals known to trigger inflammation, one of the key features of arthritis.
According to the British Nutritious Foundation, dietary fibre is “a term used for plant-based carbohydrates that, unlike other carbohydrates (such as sugars and starch), are not digested in the small intestine and so reach the large intestine or colon”.
The health body lists the following sources of dietary fibre:
- Wholegrain breakfast cereals, wholewheat pasta, wholegrain bread and oats, barley and rye
- Fruit such as berries, pears, melon and organs
- Vegetables such as broccoli, carrots and sweetcorn
- Peas, beans and pulses
- Nuts and seeds
- Potatoes with skin.
Although there are still limited treatments available for osteoarthritis patients, it recently emerged that implants made from nose cartilage could be used to repair the knee joint of individuals with severe osteoarthritis.
Ivan Martin at the University of Basel in Switzerland and his colleagues investigated the efficacy of using cartilage removed from the nose to replace damaged knee cartilage.
He said: “The main target advantage is the effective regeneration of the cartilage, as opposed to substitution by a foreign body part.