Turmeric may help arthritis pain – ‘More effective than placebo’

Arthritis can be a pain in the neck (literally). As a result, this can make everyday life even more difficult than it currently feels for so many. However, one study suggests that adjusting your diet could help to alleviate symptoms of the condition.

Conducted in 2020, the study by the American College of Physicians looked into how turmeric supplements could help to alleviate symptoms in osteoarthritis.

Publishing their research in the journal the Annals of Internal Medicine, the study found turmeric supplements were more effective for knee pain caused by osteoarthritis than a placebo.

The researchers randomly assigned 70 patients with symptomatic osteoarthritis with either a turmeric supplement or a placebo.

After 12 weeks, those who had taken the turmeric supplement reported less pain with side effects.

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In their conclusion, the authors wrote: “[Turmeric] was more effective than placebo for knee pain but did not affect knee effusion–synovitis or cartilage composition.

“Multicenter trials with larger sample sizes are needed to assess the clinical significance of these findings.”

If more trials are needed, was this study pointless?

No, each study has its limitations. Furthermore, each study furthers progress made by each study before it.

The fact that this study shows turmeric could have some health benefits for arthritis patients adds credibility to the belief that it can.


What were the limitations of this study?

The limitations were the small sample size, short duration of the follow-up study, the single research centre, and focus on knee pain?

Does that matter?

Yes, each joint reacts differently to different forces and stimuli. Turmeric supplements may work for the knee, but not for the shoulder or the wrist.

Furthermore, it is important to remember that while supplements are useful they shouldn’t be used as the main way to alleviate pain caused by arthritis.

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The NHS says: “Exercise is one of the most important treatments for people with osteoarthritis, whatever your age or level of fitness.

“Your physical activity should include a combination of exercises to strengthen your muscles and exercises to improve your general fitness. If osteoarthritis causes you pain and stiffness, you may think exercise will make your symptoms worse.

“However, regular exercise that keeps you active, builds up muscle and strengthens the joints usually helps to improve symptoms. Exercise is also good for losing weight, improving your posture and relieving stress, all of which will ease symptoms.

“Your GP, or possibly a physiotherapist, will discuss the benefits you can expect from an exercise programme and can give you an exercise plan to follow at home.”

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