Hack my aching joints!

by (421) Updated April 29, 2013 at 8:35 PM Created July 27, 2011 at 3:57 PM

Hi all,

Is there any reason why switching to Paleo might cause joint pain?

A brief history of my health:

  • Never really been unhealthy but have had the standard UK diet of high carbs low fat etc.
  • Have only ever been just above my ideal weight and Body Fat percentage
  • Had problems with my knee cartiladge probably wearing thin as I get older (although I am only just 34)
  • Take glucosamine and Fish oil daily
  • Relatively active, bike ride to work and do press ups and situps regularly
  • Switched to Paleo in May

Now it may just be a complete coincidence but since going Paleo my wrists have started to ache and are particularly painful when I wake up in the morning. The metatarsals in my right foot ache from time to time too, especially when I walk barefoot for a time.

Now, of course diet may have nothing to do with this but does anyone have any thoughts about what I can do to help alieviate joint issues?

I have been to my Dr. but they don't think there is anything I can do other than excercise. But to be honest since I started Paleo, conventional medicine does not fill me with the greatest of confidence anyway.

Some might say my foot will get better if I don't walk barefoot but it shouldn't hurt regardelss so could a deficiency in my diet be casuing joint problems?

I'm not expecting anyone to be able to offer an absolute fix, but any thoughts or ideas would be interesting to here.



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11 Replies

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2733 · September 07, 2013 at 12:44 AM

I can't think of a single reason. However I have a suggestion that may help you. I got it from an old power lifting buddy. I'm also an old power lifter, olympic lifter and at 42 I'm playing in games with the 20 somethings and hanging in there with them... looking better too BTW...and sometimes my joints are unhappy about it.

Suggestion 1: Eat more oily fish like salmon.

Suggestion 2: Fish oil supplements. 6-10g a day. Two grams is the recommendation for cardiovascular health but this is actually one of the few times where more is better. With 8g per day I have no joint pain and don't have to take NSIADS, APAP, or hydrocodone for my joints any longer.

BTW, something else I've unfortunately discovered. I'm also a fighter and in my training I don't train for the ring, I train for the street...real power in my strikes, not the tip tap stuff that looks good on TV. Hitting the heavy bag, the wooden 10x10 post that doesn't move, and breaking boards/cinderblocks is part of how I do this. Pretty rough on the joints too... no problems there anymore as I already mentioned. However, yesterday I mad a bad strike and thought I'd cracked my wrist (hey it happens sometimes :( ) Instantly swollen and black. Today, swelling almost gone, color almost normal, and I haven't had to take anything for pain. Fish oil? I don't know and can't say for certain. But I've never recovered from this kind of injury so quickly before. In the past, when it looked like this it was 2 - 8 weeks before I was fully recovered. This time, it looks like 2 or 3 days, maybe a week.

Just some thoughts. I hope something in there can help you.

170 · July 28, 2011 at 12:05 AM

Possibly nightshades are causing inflammation? Don't know much about it, but if you are eating a lot of tomatoes and eggplant look into it.

3926 · July 27, 2011 at 4:09 PM

Is it possible that since starting Paleo, you are eating some foods you might be allergic to? When I started Paleo, I increased my consumption of salads dramatically and ended up with joint pain. Everyone I told thought I was crazy since Paleo "cures" everything. Turns out that I am allergic to tomatoes and they were causing joint pain.

20 · September 29, 2011 at 3:04 AM

Glad I found this thread as I'm having similar issues. I've been eating paleo (but with dairy and flaxseed grain) for 2 weeks. In the last week, my knees and calves have ached, especially at night. I've had cramping pains in my feet also. I sit all day at my job and thought maybe I should move around to increase circulation, but more frequent breaks with a short walk down the hall or on the stairs hasn't helped at all. I went from a high-carb diet to this, so I expect some sluggishness while my body adjusts. I've done this before. But I've never had the aching feeling in my legs before. Would really like to find out what's going on.

77338 · July 27, 2011 at 4:39 PM

Lack of calcium. If you don't want to eat dairy, then eat eggshells. Boil them, and then grind them up. Take a teaspoon 3X a day with meals and you will be getting plenty of calcium.

20 · December 20, 2011 at 11:49 AM

jim - i went subtantially paleo about 3 months ago and then purposely keto (for an experiment) about 3 weeks ago. it seems that over the last month, i have progressing joint pain in knees, elbow, shoulders, and calf cramps at night. i record everything (wt, bf%, food intake, workout performance, subjective analysis of how i feel, etc) and i'm very careful not to make associations or suggest cause & effect without evidence. my observations, however, show that i'm geting really stiff in the mornings and i fear that my 6 month-old crossfit "career" is screeching to a halt. that has me concerned because i live for that stuff. i'm crawling this blog to see what has worked for other folks. do you have an update on your situation? thx.

10 · October 18, 2011 at 12:39 AM

I just started paleo last week. joint point started immediately. I am an active athlete with a certain amount of joint pain, however this is not "normal". Couldn't even run a short ten yards on grass without knees yelling at me to stop. One of my wrists is very painful and in addition, I am achey and lethargic on Paleo.

2689 · July 27, 2011 at 5:27 PM

Being that your wrists hurt most upon waking, do you know what your sleep posture is? I tend to sleep in a very tight position and often wake up with sore joints. I find my wrists curled under my chin, wrists and elbows all bent as far as they can. I sometimes have my knees almost at my chest when I wake...this causes knee pain for me. Just a thought.

I don't have any ideas for your foot pain. I have been getting some foot pain lately, but I have recently switched my running form and am starting to run barefoot, so I think I am in an adjustment zone.

3277 · April 29, 2013 at 8:24 PM

If by chance you started eating a lot of sweet potatoes, spinach, dark chocolate, v8 veggie juice, & choc coconut water, you might be having a problem with OXALATES. Here's a high-level description of it: http://www.lovingourguts.com/what-are-oxalates-2/

Each time I attempted to eat strict, health paleo, I developed severe muscle cramping, brain fog, and most recently joint pain. It's a cumulative effect: after 9 consecutive high-oxalate meals, symptoms were getting progressively worse. When I stopped all those foods, and just had chicken, white rice, butter & salt, the improvement was dramatic (over a 3 day period). I'm still not 100% positive it's oxalates, and not perhaps something else in common to those foods, but I'm encouraged. At least it's clear that I'm reacting to foods and it's not a disease or something more serious.

BTW, I got totally side-tracked and derailed by the muscle cramping symptoms, pursuing it as a likely electrolyte imbalance. I spent soo much time tinkering with electrolyte ratios. Ultimately, keeping a food log helped me correlate certain foods with bad reactions. Eventually, I learned what those foods had in common.


0 · April 29, 2013 at 5:41 PM

Wow- this is my story exactly. Paleo for two years and I live with the foot, and wrist pain. Calf muscles are tight in the morning and no doubt this is not coincidence to other accounts in this thread. Looking for answers-

0 · June 03, 2012 at 11:20 PM

Went Paleo for about 3 months. I tended to eat quite a bit of fruit and veggies anyway, but I also include whole grains and some dairy. Pretty balance overall, but wanted to see if eliminating the grains and dairy and increasing the consumption of meat/fish made a difference. I did increase the protein and healthy fats. Felt sluggish as expected for the first month... except it never really went away. Workouts just didn't have much snap. Starting experiencing a lot more joint stiffness and pain. Also noticed that I was more susceptible to muscle cramps. Decided to go back to my normal diet and within about 3 days noticed a significant improvement in my joints... especially my shoulders. Not sure what the issue might be, but thought I would look into whether others had experienced the same issues and found this blog.

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