A DIET low in carbs may help relieve pain in people who have knee osteoarthritis, say researchers.
There is currently no cure for knee osteoarthritis which can cause joint swelling, stiffness and even severe pain.
Doctors often prescribe pain relievers for knee pain but these can cause unwanted side effects which has prompted researchers to look at whether diet might relieve symptoms.
University of Alabama PAIN Collective researchers led a study that compared two diets - low carb and low fat.
The study participants followed either of the two diets or continued to eat normally for a period of 12 weeks.
Every three week the researchers analysed the participants functional pain associated with daily tasks as well as their self-reported pain, quality of life and level of depression. They also examined blood levels for oxidative stress - lower oxidative stress correlated to less functional pain.
The researchers found that the low carb diet reduced functional pain levels and levels of self-reported pain. The benefits were particularly noticeable in comparison with the low fat and regular diets.
"Our work shows people can reduce their pain with a change in diet," said lead author Robert Sorge.
"Many medications for pain cause a host of side effects that may require other drugs to reduce. The beneficial side effects of our diet may be things such as reduced risk for heart disease, diabetes and weight loss - something many drugs cannot claim.
"Diet will never cure pain, but our work suggests it can reduce it to a point where it does not interfere with daily activities to a high degree."
Popular low carb options include lean meats such as sirloin, chicken breast and pork, fish, eggs and green leafy vegetables.
Arthritis information: arthritisaustralia.com.au
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