Osteoarthritis is the most prominent form of arthritis, affecting approximately 15% of the population in the United States. Knee osteoarthritis (KOA) has become one of the leading causes of disability in older adults. Besides knee replacement, there are no curative treatments for KOA, so persistent pain is commonly treated with opioids, acetaminophen, and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. However, these drugs have many unpleasant side effects, so there is a need for alternative forms of pain management. We sought to test the efficacy of a dietary intervention to reduce KOA.
A randomized controlled pilot study to test the efficacy of two dietary interventions.
Adults 65-75 years of age with KOA.
Participants were asked to follow one of two dietary interventions (low-carbohydrate [LCD], low-fat [LFD]) or continue to eat as usual (control [CTRL]) over 12 weeks. Functional pain, self-reported pain, quality of life, and depression were assessed every three weeks. Serum from before and after the diet intervention was analyzed for oxidative stress.
Over a period of 12 weeks, the LCD reduced pain intensity and unpleasantness in some functional pain tasks, as well as self-reported pain, compared with the LFD and CTRL. The LCD also significantly reduced oxidative stress and the adipokine leptin compared with the LFD and CTRL. Reduction in oxidative stress was related to reduced functional pain.
We present evidence suggesting that oxidative stress may be related to functional pain, and lowering it through our LCD intervention could provide relief from pain and be an opioid alternative.