Versus Arthritis Centre for Sport, Exercise and Osteoarthritis
University of Nottingham

Dietary fibre intake 'can help prevent development of knee pain'

Published by Arthritis Research UK | 7 December 2016

People's dietary intake of fibre could have an effect on their chances of developing chronic knee pain, according to a new study.

Research carried out by Boston University School of Medicine has offered evidence that an increase in dietary fibre may be an effective means of reducing knee pain, in part by lowering body weight and inflammation.

The study

Published in the medical journal Arthritis Care & Research, the study examined a group of 4,796 men and women aged 45 to 79 years with or at risk of knee osteoarthritis, whose dietary fibre levels were estimated using a validated food frequency questionnaire at the start of the study.

Pain patterns were assessed alongside dietary habits during annual follow-ups taking place over an eight-year period.

In total, 4.9 per cent of the patients ended up undergoing knee replacements, while 34.5 per cent experienced no knee pain, 38.1 per cent were affected by mild pain, 21.2 suffered moderate pain and 6.2 per cent were stricken by severe pain.

The benefits of consuming more fibre

It was shown that the higher a person's dietary fibre intake was, the lower their chances were of being included in the moderate or severe pain groups, with a similar trend seen for those consuming plenty of grain fibre.

These findings provide further evidence of the health benefits that a fibre-rich diet that includes a large amount of fruits, vegetables, beans, nuts and whole grains can offer, particularly in terms of reducing inflammation and improving joint health.

The researchers said: "Our findings suggest that high dietary total or grain fibre, particularly in the recommended daily fibre average intake of 25g per day, was associated with lower risks of belonging to moderate and severe knee pain development patterns over time."

Arthritis Research UK's view

Natalie Carter, head of research liaison and evaluation at Arthritis Research UK, said: "Over four million people in the UK alone are affected by osteoarthritis of the knee, and currently the pain management options are limited.

"We know that dietary fibre can play a part in maintaining a healthy weight, which can help to improve symptoms of osteoarthritis; this study is interesting as it shows how fibre could also directly help to relieve knee pain, which could be a useful method of self-management for people who are affected.

"Research happening at the Arthritis Research UK Pain Centre is focused on trying to better understand what causes pain in osteoarthritis, which is crucial in finding effective ways to treat and manage arthritis pain."

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Posted on Tuesday 13th December 2016