2

votes

Has paleo caused anyone joint or muscle aches?

Answered on July 12, 2017
Created October 11, 2012 at 7:27 AM

So this is just me trying to rule everything out. I'm male, 28yrs, about 85Kg, reasonably active. Since about late March I've had this chronic aching and tightness behind both knees (in the popliteal fossa). I begin eating paleo in about December 2011, and it took me a while to become completely grain free, and get to a point where I'm eating 95% paleo, I think it was about March 2012 when I could say that I was eating a true paleo diet.

I also started playing indoor soccer at about that time, and one morning after a game I woke up with this knee pain, I just wrote it off as post exercise muscle soreness at first because I didn't injur myself at all that I can remember, but this problem has never gone away since, which is 6 months to date!!

I'm a remedial massage therapist so I did as much diagnostic testing I could and have found that I do have a few muscle imbalances, but have been strengthening and stretching as needed. This hasn't changed my knee pain at all. I've also been to an osteopath, a physiotherapist, a chiropractor, a myotherapist and most recently an orthopedic surgeon who has recommended I get an MRI to check the cartilage for tears. I've also had an x-ray and ultrasound, both returned negative/normal results.

I'm told that a cartilage tear is extremely unlikely, as I haven't had a specific injury, and even still, it is far more unlikely that both knees have torn cartilage.

So given the chronic nature of it, it is feasible that the problem is metabolic or diet related.

My symptoms are:

Pain and difficulty extending my knees after sitting for more than 5-10mins at a time.

Pain with knees in full/hyperflexion ie when doing a full squat and 'duck walking'.

Pain when sitting in a chair, and resting one foot on the other knee (the leg that is resting on top presents pain in the knee).

Resisted hamstring flex causes pain.

81348acb7b886e2b32ca915d250268f3

(1022)

on December 03, 2012
at 07:07 AM

Thoughts I'd do a bit of an update for anyone following this post. I went on Potassium supplements, taking 225mg tablets, once every evening for about 3 weeks. I noticed no improvement in symptoms, but did notice my urine colour went a copper/light brown colour. Considering I'm on ACE inhibitors due to HBP, which specifically contraindicates taking potassium supps, I decided to cease taking them.

81348acb7b886e2b32ca915d250268f3

(1022)

on November 02, 2012
at 01:41 AM

Also, I ran a nutrition diary for a week and found I was consistently low in potassium by quite a lot according to RDIs.

81348acb7b886e2b32ca915d250268f3

(1022)

on November 02, 2012
at 01:40 AM

So the MRIs showed no structual problems with my knees, my physio and orthopedic surgeon have no idea what is causing my knee pain, so I'm going to go down the nutrition path and try to find out what in my diet could be lacking and causing this problem.

Eed7dabde3d61910685845e04605267f

(2934)

on October 12, 2012
at 11:14 AM

That's what this place is for lol. Hope you work it out.

81348acb7b886e2b32ca915d250268f3

(1022)

on October 11, 2012
at 11:09 PM

True that, thanks for bringing it up, as I never would have considered it.

81348acb7b886e2b32ca915d250268f3

(1022)

on October 11, 2012
at 11:07 PM

Hey thanks for your perspective, I don't think my diet is a likely cause of this problem, but it's something for the sake of completeness that I need to look into, preferably before I drop $600 on MRI scans, and another $150 on an orthopedic surgeon.

Eed7dabde3d61910685845e04605267f

(2934)

on October 11, 2012
at 01:46 PM

Fair enough. At least you can rule it out then...

Ef777978cfeb8fbdd18d75c4f6c4cb23

(1297)

on October 11, 2012
at 11:20 AM

I agree that lots of people play sport and have no problems at all. Lucky them. But there are also millions of people who give up sport as they approach 30. Most maintain that they have lives that are too busy, jobs, mortgages, young children etc all of which is probably true, but at least some people, certainly some people I teach are failing to adjust their recovery times as they get older and don't understand that just because the guy next to them appears to be more robust than them, they should be too. My experience suggests it's way more complicated than that. Careful of those squats!

E35e3d76547b18096a59c90029e7e107

(15603)

on October 11, 2012
at 10:50 AM

Most carbs, even bread/cereals contain some mg/k, such that if you get most of your diet from carbs, you'll get a decent amount of both, but if you're eating relatively low carb, even eating things very high in mg/k like brocolli, you'll probably be short unless you're eating loads, hence why it's easy to inadvertently lack both on a low carb diet. A couple of pieces of fruit probs won't cut it either. Here's some specific recommendations http://www.bodyrecomposition.com/nutrition/whats-causing-my-muscles-to-cram.html

81348acb7b886e2b32ca915d250268f3

(1022)

on October 11, 2012
at 10:34 AM

Ok so its possibly more an electrolyte thing. I do suppliment with magnesium a few nights a week before bed, but this makes no noticeable difference. I eat about two pieces of fruit a day (usually bananas and apples, sometimes a kiwi or mandarin when in season). Its a bit hard to remember back to what I used to eat, but I was eating quite a lot of bread daily, and breakfast was normally whole grain cereal (you know, all the healthy stuff). Does this stuff have much in the way of Mg or K minerals?

E35e3d76547b18096a59c90029e7e107

(15603)

on October 11, 2012
at 10:10 AM

I don't know if it's the low carb per se that causes muscle aches, though it's not wildly implausible, so much as the fact that low carb leads to lower intake of magnesium and potassium and more excretion of potassium. I'd be very surprised if sat fat, which has been such a huge portion of human nutrition for our entire history and which our own body fat is made up of would cause muscle aches. I wouldn't stress about precise macronutrient ratios, just try supping with some potassium/magnesium/a sweet potato or two or some fruit, and see what happens.

81348acb7b886e2b32ca915d250268f3

(1022)

on October 11, 2012
at 09:57 AM

Ok, so there has been some connection between low carb and muscular problems. Interesting. See I was more looking at it from the higher sat fat intake angle, which conventional wisdom says there is a connection with. I think it's time I do a diet diary for a week, and see where what my mac-nutrient levels look like.

81348acb7b886e2b32ca915d250268f3

(1022)

on October 11, 2012
at 08:08 AM

Hmm I cant say I eat any potatoes now (I did prior to paleo), and rarely eat tomatoes cos the ones we have very little taste, and I cant remember the last time I ate eggplants.

Eed7dabde3d61910685845e04605267f

(2934)

on October 11, 2012
at 07:54 AM

Nightshades are a family including things like potatoes, tomatoes, eggplants/aubergines that may have an impact on joint pain. It might be helpful to try an 'elimination diet' to see if there's anything affecting you (Easier sid than done I know, but helpful... There are a few answers here which are interesting... http://paleohacks.com/search?q=nightshades#axzz28yUF48pp

81348acb7b886e2b32ca915d250268f3

(1022)

on October 11, 2012
at 07:45 AM

No never heard of this before, do you have some info on it?

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8 Answers

2
Ef777978cfeb8fbdd18d75c4f6c4cb23

on October 11, 2012
at 07:47 AM

I know you don't want to hear this, but the bad news is you're getting old! I teach qi gong (a bit like tai chi) and now and again I see someone who is getting joint pain caused by playing explosive sport.

Athletes are in their prime at 28, but performance pretty well goes over a cliff from 30 and many are retired by 32-34. If you've just started playing soccer then your body would not have been used to the twists and turns and jarring that are specific to that sport and you will need time, possibly a lot of time to recover from it.

You say you are reasonably active. That could mean a lot of things round here. But the chances are you didn't train specifically to get fit for soccer you just jumped in and now you've done some damage. Are you slightly damaging your knees every time you maintain your reasonably active lifestyle?

I would suggest you need complete rest until the pain has gone and then 2 weeks beyond that and then ease yourself back in gently.

I personally doubt it has anything to do with your diet.

1
Ed0cb30f40daff568778b776b2a5a81d

(943)

on November 01, 2012
at 02:48 PM

I've experienced muscle aches and cramps as a runner after switching to paleo. I'm pretty sure it has something to do with lower intake of potassium/calcium/sodium/B12/iodine (and carbs for many) in any combination. I'm not taking supplements but instead I try to focus on foods that are high in these minerals and vitamins.

1
B4596b07beac42c88ea7b3eab1c4c711

on November 01, 2012
at 12:30 PM

I have this pain behind the knees also and it is very bad at night. It began about 9 or 10 months after I adopted a Paleo diet, but I also suffered from it several years ago for about six months. I've recently adopted a strict autoimmune protocol diet from Diane Sanfilippo's book Practical Paleo. After two hard weeks I felt the first clear improvement in the pain. More time is needed to know if it will completely resolve.

1
E35e3d76547b18096a59c90029e7e107

(15603)

on October 11, 2012
at 08:57 AM

There are a fair few threads about this already. Low carb/low potassium/low magnesium (all quite possible on paleo) all predispose me to muscle aches.

81348acb7b886e2b32ca915d250268f3

(1022)

on October 11, 2012
at 10:34 AM

Ok so its possibly more an electrolyte thing. I do suppliment with magnesium a few nights a week before bed, but this makes no noticeable difference. I eat about two pieces of fruit a day (usually bananas and apples, sometimes a kiwi or mandarin when in season). Its a bit hard to remember back to what I used to eat, but I was eating quite a lot of bread daily, and breakfast was normally whole grain cereal (you know, all the healthy stuff). Does this stuff have much in the way of Mg or K minerals?

E35e3d76547b18096a59c90029e7e107

(15603)

on October 11, 2012
at 10:50 AM

Most carbs, even bread/cereals contain some mg/k, such that if you get most of your diet from carbs, you'll get a decent amount of both, but if you're eating relatively low carb, even eating things very high in mg/k like brocolli, you'll probably be short unless you're eating loads, hence why it's easy to inadvertently lack both on a low carb diet. A couple of pieces of fruit probs won't cut it either. Here's some specific recommendations http://www.bodyrecomposition.com/nutrition/whats-causing-my-muscles-to-cram.html

E35e3d76547b18096a59c90029e7e107

(15603)

on October 11, 2012
at 10:10 AM

I don't know if it's the low carb per se that causes muscle aches, though it's not wildly implausible, so much as the fact that low carb leads to lower intake of magnesium and potassium and more excretion of potassium. I'd be very surprised if sat fat, which has been such a huge portion of human nutrition for our entire history and which our own body fat is made up of would cause muscle aches. I wouldn't stress about precise macronutrient ratios, just try supping with some potassium/magnesium/a sweet potato or two or some fruit, and see what happens.

81348acb7b886e2b32ca915d250268f3

(1022)

on October 11, 2012
at 09:57 AM

Ok, so there has been some connection between low carb and muscular problems. Interesting. See I was more looking at it from the higher sat fat intake angle, which conventional wisdom says there is a connection with. I think it's time I do a diet diary for a week, and see where what my mac-nutrient levels look like.

1
Eed7dabde3d61910685845e04605267f

on October 11, 2012
at 07:29 AM

Have you looked into nightshade sensitivity?

81348acb7b886e2b32ca915d250268f3

(1022)

on October 11, 2012
at 07:45 AM

No never heard of this before, do you have some info on it?

Eed7dabde3d61910685845e04605267f

(2934)

on October 11, 2012
at 01:46 PM

Fair enough. At least you can rule it out then...

81348acb7b886e2b32ca915d250268f3

(1022)

on October 11, 2012
at 11:09 PM

True that, thanks for bringing it up, as I never would have considered it.

81348acb7b886e2b32ca915d250268f3

(1022)

on October 11, 2012
at 08:08 AM

Hmm I cant say I eat any potatoes now (I did prior to paleo), and rarely eat tomatoes cos the ones we have very little taste, and I cant remember the last time I ate eggplants.

Eed7dabde3d61910685845e04605267f

(2934)

on October 11, 2012
at 07:54 AM

Nightshades are a family including things like potatoes, tomatoes, eggplants/aubergines that may have an impact on joint pain. It might be helpful to try an 'elimination diet' to see if there's anything affecting you (Easier sid than done I know, but helpful... There are a few answers here which are interesting... http://paleohacks.com/search?q=nightshades#axzz28yUF48pp

Eed7dabde3d61910685845e04605267f

(2934)

on October 12, 2012
at 11:14 AM

That's what this place is for lol. Hope you work it out.

0
093eeb310ea5c79958e807725bf2e25b

on July 12, 2017
at 01:33 PM

I know your question is old, but I wanted to say that if you're eating dairy, that can be the worst for joints and muscles.  I suspect you have a problem digesting casein.  I know I do.  Cheese has the most concentrated casein and Greek yogurt is next in line.  If you stop all dairy, you will notice a huge difference in pain in just a few days.

0
81348acb7b886e2b32ca915d250268f3

(1022)

on October 11, 2012
at 11:48 PM

A little bit of a long shot, but I'm wondering if sodium nitrate has any link to joint or muscle pain/cramping? I don't buy nitrate free bacon simply because I cannot afford it ($49/kg), and I eat it for breaky every day with eggs. I've tried a few google searches for this and haven't found anything that can shed light on it.

0
81348acb7b886e2b32ca915d250268f3

(1022)

on October 11, 2012
at 08:06 AM

@David McC - Cant use the reply function as this post is too long.

Yes this is a possibility that I've considered also, however, I've been resting for a little over 6 weeks and nothing has changed.

Back in March I did just jump into playing soccer, and it was roughly 4 weeks after playing (once a week) when this pain came on. I continued playing up until about mid-August, the pain neither increased or decreased during this time. The pain usually presents when I'm at rest/inactive, hardly every was I inhibited by the pain while I was playing (provided I warmed up first). I went on a snowboarding trip for a week where I was boarding for 6+ hours a day, and had very little problem with knee pain. I broke my wrist while snowboarding so I haven't played soccer in about 6 weeks now, the knee pain hasn't changed and I've been living an extremely inactive lifestyle right now.

My definition of being reasonably active is mountainbiking once every few weeks, walking every day, on my feel for work every day, weight lifting a few times a week. Granted, nothing too strenuous on my knees though, but I personally know plenty of people my age and older who have just started playing sport and have had no problems what so ever.

Ef777978cfeb8fbdd18d75c4f6c4cb23

(1297)

on October 11, 2012
at 11:20 AM

I agree that lots of people play sport and have no problems at all. Lucky them. But there are also millions of people who give up sport as they approach 30. Most maintain that they have lives that are too busy, jobs, mortgages, young children etc all of which is probably true, but at least some people, certainly some people I teach are failing to adjust their recovery times as they get older and don't understand that just because the guy next to them appears to be more robust than them, they should be too. My experience suggests it's way more complicated than that. Careful of those squats!

81348acb7b886e2b32ca915d250268f3

(1022)

on October 11, 2012
at 11:07 PM

Hey thanks for your perspective, I don't think my diet is a likely cause of this problem, but it's something for the sake of completeness that I need to look into, preferably before I drop $600 on MRI scans, and another $150 on an orthopedic surgeon.

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