Functional Medicine for Arthritis

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What is arthritis

An inflammation and pain in the joint are common symptoms of arthritis. More than 10 million people in the UK suffer from arthritis or other related disorders that have an impact on the joints. All ages, including children, are affected.

The two most prevalent kinds of arthritis are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.


The most prevalent kind of arthritis in the UK, affecting approximately 9 million individuals, is osteoarthritis. Most frequently, it strikes those in their mid-40s or older.

In addition, women and those with a family history of the illness are more likely to experience it. However, it can happen at any age as a result of an accident or be linked to other joint-related diseases like gout or rheumatoid arthritis.

The smooth cartilage that lines the joint is initially impacted by osteoarthritis. Movement becomes more challenging than usual as a result, resulting in discomfort and stiffness.

The tendons and ligaments must work harder when the cartilage lining begins to deteriorate and become rougher.

Osteophytes, which are bone spurs, may occur as well as swelling. Grave cartilage loss can cause the bones to rub against one another, changing the form of the joint and displacing the bones from their natural positions.

The joints that are most frequently impacted are those in the:

  • hands
  • spine
  • knees
  • hips

Rheumatoid arthritis

Rheumatoid arthritis affects around 400,000 persons in the UK. Women are three times more likely to be afflicted than males, and it frequently begins in people between the ages of 40 and 50.

The immune system of the body attacks the afflicted joints in rheumatoid arthritis, causing discomfort and swelling. The first area to be impacted is the joint’s synovium, or outer coating. This may then spread throughout the joint, causing more swelling and a change in the form of the joint. The bone and cartilage could deteriorate as a result of this. Rheumatoid arthritis patients may also experience complications with various body organs and tissues.

Other types of arthritis and related conditions

  • ankylosing spondylitis – a long-term inflammatory condition that mainly affects the bones, muscles and ligaments of the spine, leading to stiffness and joints fusing together. Other problems can include the swelling of tendons, eyes and large joints
  • cervical spondylosis – also known as degenerative osteoarthritis, cervical spondylitis affects the joints and bones in the neck, which can lead to pain and stiffness
  • fibromyalgia – causes pain in the body’s muscles, ligaments and tendons
  • lupus – an autoimmune condition that can affect many different organs and the body’s tissues
  • gout – a type of arthritis caused by too much uric acid in the body. This can be left in joints (usually affecting the big toe), but can develop in any joint. It causes intense pain, redness and swelling
  • psoriatic arthritis – an inflammatory joint condition that can affect people with psoriasis
  • enteropathic arthritis – a form of chronic inflammatory arthritis associated with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), the 2 main types being ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease. About 1 in 5 people with Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis will develop enteropathic arthritis. The most common areas affected by inflammation are the peripheral (limb) joints and the spine
  • reactive arthritis – this can cause inflammation of the joints, eyes and the tube that urine passes through (urethra). It develops shortly after an infection of the bowel, genital tract or, less frequently, after a throat infection
  • secondary arthritis – a type of arthritis that can develop after a joint injury and sometimes occurs many years afterwards
  • polymyalgia rheumatica – a condition that almost always affects people over 50 years of age, where the immune system causes muscle pain and stiffness, usually across the shoulders and tops of the legs. It can also cause joint inflammation

What are the symptoms of arthritis

The symptoms you experience will vary depending on the type you have.

This is why it’s important to have an accurate diagnosis if you have:

  • joint pain, tenderness and stiffness
  • inflammation in and around the joints
  • restricted movement of the joints
  • warm red skin over the affected joint
  • weakness and muscle wasting

How functional medicine can help with arthritis

A food and supplement plan comprising nutrients that help cartilage repair and regeneration can be developed using functional medicine.

• Offer a variety of natural remedies with fewer side effects that can help relieve pain and inflammation.

• Using dietary adjustments and particular supplements, lower the body’s inflammatory response.

• By addressing the gut, promote a more balanced immunological response.

• Find out what underlying issues or imbalances might be causing your arthritic symptoms, and take care of them.

• Make your own low-reactive diet by looking for any foods that could be aggravating your arthritis symptoms.

• Address and remedy any nutritional deficiencies that may be causing the symptoms of arthritis.

Testing that we may use could include:

  • ·         Thyroid function test
  • ·         Digestive system testing
  • ·         Blood testing
  • ·         Urine testing
  • ·         Saliva Testing
  • ·         Heavy Metal testing
  • ·         Fatty Acid testing
  • ·         Anti-Oxidents
  • ·         Minerals and Vitamin testing

Dr Stavy can prepare a personalised treatment plan for you based on a comprehensive analysis which can include:

  • ·         Advice on nutrition
  • ·         A plan and advice for exercising
  • ·         Medication
  • ·         A lifestyle change and recommendations

Treating arthritis

Although arthritis cannot be cured, there are numerous therapies that can help it progress more slowly. Treatments for osteoarthritis include dietary adjustments, medications, and surgery. Rheumatoid arthritis treatment seeks to lessen joint inflammation and decrease the progression of the disease. This lessens the risk of joint injury. Medication, physiotherapy, and surgery are all forms of treatment.

Eating well

If you have arthritis, eating a healthy, balanced diet is crucial. You may get all the nutrients you need and keep a healthy weight by eating a balanced diet. All five food groups should be included in your diet in a variety of items. Which are:

Losing weight can definitely help you manage arthritis if you’re overweight. Your hips, knees, ankles, and feet take a beating from carrying too much weight, which increases pain and impairs movement.

8 food and drinks to stay away from if you have arthritis

According to research, dietary changes including giving up particular foods and drinks may lessen the intensity of a person’s symptoms of inflammatory arthritis and osteoarthritis while also enhancing their general quality of life.

1. Sugars added in

No matter what, but especially if you have arthritis, you should limit your intake of sugar. Candy, soda, ice cream, and many more foods—including less visible ones like barbecue sauce—all include added sugars. Additionally, drinking sugary drinks like soda may greatly raise your risk.

2. Processed and red meats 

Red and processed meat have been linked in several studies to inflammation, which may exacerbate the symptoms of arthritis. On the other hand, studies have indicated that plant-based diets that avoid red meat can reduce the symptoms of arthritis.

3. Foods containing gluten

A group of proteins known as gluten is found in wheat, barley, rye, and triticale (a cross between wheat and rye). Going gluten-free may help with the symptoms of arthritis, according to some studies that linked it to an increase in inflammation.

Additionally, those who have celiac disease are more likely to acquire RA. Similar to RA, celiac disease is far more common among people with autoimmune illnesses than in the overall population.

4. Highly processed foods

Fast food, breakfast cereal, and baked goods are examples of ultra-processed foods that are frequently heavy in refined carbohydrates, added sugar, preservatives, and other potentially inflammatory elements that may exacerbate arthritic symptoms. As a result, eating processed meals may harm your overall health and raise your risk of contracting further ailments.

5. Alcohol

Anyone with inflammatory arthritis should limit or avoid alcohol since it can make arthritis symptoms worse.

6. Specific plant oils

Diets low in omega-3 fats and high in omega-6 fats may make osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis symptoms worse. The body needs these fats for good health. However, the unbalanced omega-6 to omega-3 ratio found in the majority of Western diets may worsen inflammation.Reducing your intake of foods high in omega-6 fats, such as vegetable oils, while increasing your intake of omega-3-rich foods like fatty fish may improve arthritis symptoms.

7. Foods high in salt 

For those who have arthritis, reducing salt intake may be a wise decision. Shrimp, canned soup, pizza, some cheeses, processed meats, and several other processed foods are examples of foods high in salt.

8. AGE-rich foods

Molecules called advanced glycation end products (AGEs) are produced when proteins or lipids react with sugars. They are naturally present in raw animal foods and are created through specific cooking techniques.

One of the richest dietary sources of AGEs is high protein, high fat animal dishes that are fried, roasted, grilled, seared, or broiled. These include bacon, grilled or roasted poultry, steak that has been pan-fried, and hot dogs that have been broiled.

Additionally high in AGEs are mayonnaise, American cheese, margarine, and french fries. In fact, it has been discovered that individuals with inflammatory arthritis have higher levels of AGEs in their bodies than do individuals without the condition. Osteoarthritis development and progression may potentially be influenced by AGE deposition in bones and joints. The total amount of AGE in your body may be decreased by substituting healthy, whole meals like vegetables, fruits, legumes, and seafood for high AGE items.


If your arthritis is painful, you may not feel like exercising. However, being active can help reduce and prevent pain. Regular exercise can also:

  • improve your range of movement and joint mobility
  • increase muscle strength
  • reduce stiffness
  • boost your energy

Your arthritis won’t worsen as long as you exercise appropriately for your condition, both in terms of style and intensity. Regular exercise will help you lose weight and put less stress on your joints when combined with a healthy, balanced diet. Your doctor can advise you on the kind and intensity of exercise that is best for you.

At home

It can be difficult to complete duties around the house if you have arthritis. But things ought to get easier if you make some useful adjustments to your house and your working habits. The following helpful advice is practical:

  • keeping things in easy reach
  • using a hand rail to help you get up and down the stairs
  • using long-handled tools to pick things up or to clean
  • fitting levers to taps to make them easier to turn
  • using electric kitchen equipment, such as tin openers, when preparing food


A number of dietary supplements have demonstrated potential in reducing pain, stiffness, and other symptoms of arthritis. Some of the natural remedies for osteoarthritis (OA) and rheumatoid arthritis that have been researched by researchers include glucosamine and chondroitin, omega-3 fatty acids, SAM-e, and curcumin (RA).

When combined with conventional therapies, several of these natural cures may provide relief from the symptoms of arthritis. The effectiveness of some of the most well-known dietary supplements for the treatment of arthritis is demonstrated here.

Glucosamine and Chondroitin  

Glucosamine and chondroitin are two of the most commonly used supplements for arthritis. They’re components of cartilage—the substance that cushions the joints. 

Fish oil 

The omega-3 fatty acids found in fish have potent anti-inflammatory properties.  Plant-based sources such as flax and chia seeds also contain omega-3s, but in the form of short-chain alpha-linolenic acid (ALA).


S-adenosyl-methionine (SAM-e) is a natural compound in the body that has anti-inflammatory, cartilage-protecting and pain-relieving effects. In studies, it was about as good at relieving OA pain as NSAIDs like ibuprofen and celecoxib, without their side effects.


Curcumin is the active compound in the yellow-hued spice, turmeric, which is a staple of Indian curries. In the body, it acts as a powerful anti-inflammatory agent, blocking the same inflammation-promoting enzyme as the COX-2 inhibitor drug, celecoxib. 


Several vitamins have been studied for their effects on arthritis, including the antioxidant vitamins A, C, and E, and vitamins D and K. So far there’s no evidence that taking antioxidant vitamins improves arthritis symptoms, although eating a diet rich in these nutrients is healthy overall. Vitamins D and K are both important for bone strength, and vitamin K is involved in cartilage structure. Supplementing these two nutrients may be helpful if you’re deficient in them. 

For more information or if you would like to discuss treatment and management for arthritis with Dr Stavy then please contact us via email: