Joint Pain Since Becoming Vegan

Joint Pain Since Becoming Vegan

joint painSince becoming vegan, I have noticed that I feel joint pains more often and some pains seem to persist, such as my shoulder and knee. I have been taking Glucosamine, MSM, Calcium, Omega-3, as well as a complete multi-vitamin; however, the pains still seem to persist. I am thinking that I am missing something in my diet that I had received before (mostly vegetarian, some chicken/fish). Do you have any suggestions?

Sorry to hear that your joint pain has worsened recently. Since becoming vegan, did you also change your exercise routine, job, or your daily schedule? Often just moving your body differently can explain bodily aches and pains. Even changing desk chairs can cause problems, as your body changes its alignment for much of the day. If this is possible, check with a chiropractor or other practitioner who does body work to see if your problems are related to your activity or lack thereof.

Weight gain may also trigger joint pain.

Joint pain is very often caused by inflammation related to an unhealthy immune system. Unfortunately, inflammation is a complex and not very well understood or easy to diagnose process, but it is the root of many ills, and is gaining notoriety for being the basis of such diseases as heart disease.

As far as diet, except for fish, there really aren’t any animal products that have been shown to assist with decreased inflammation, joint healing, or pain relief. To get the beneficial components in fish, as you suggested, you should take omega-3 fatty acids and include healthy vegan sources such as canola oil, walnuts, green leafy vegetables, flaxseeds, and hemp seeds.

I’m not sure if you’re following an essentially whole-foods vegan diet, or using foods like refined flour products, sweets, sugar, and the like. Certainly if you replaced animal products with these kinds of foods, your body might have a negative response.

If your diet is not predominantly whole intact grains, vegetables, fruits, and legumes, now is the time to start. Such a diet may play a role in healing the gut, thus promoting a healthy immune system. Continue taking the supplements you mentioned, and try a whole-foods diet for 6 weeks to see if you find relief. I also recommend that you try probioitics, which may help balance out the good bacteria in your digestive system, which may then strengthen your immune system.

Unfortunately, there are some whole vegan foods which may play a role in inflammation and/or joint pain. These include wheat, the nightshade family of vegetables (potatoes, eggplant, tomatoes, and peppers). Other foods not listed here may be your personal triggers; keep a food diary to see if you notice a relationship between what you’re eating and subsequent pain.

I strongly recommend that you visit a holistic practitioner, who can better evaluate your situation by asking you important questions, making observations, and providing more in-depth and specific advice.

I wish you the best of luck and healing.

Jill Nussinow

Author: Jill Nussinow

Jill Nussinow is a Registered Dietitian, culinary educator, cookbook author, speaker and consultant and all around proponent of a plant-based diet. She teaches vegetarian and vegan cooking at Santa Rosa Junior College in California and other places around the US. One of her greatest joys is sharing her enthusiasm for vegetables and pressure cooking with anyone who will listen. Visit Jill's website

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