You know how common it is for people with all sorts of arthritis to tell you that the time of day has a strong effect on how they feel pain?
The most common complain, of course, is that pain and stiffness are significantly worse in the morning on waking, and often much improved as the day goes on, something that I for one can vouch for because that’s what my knees and back and left hip so often tell me.
Well, the good news is that researchers have really been revving up their focus on the circadian clock – the internal clock that governs so many of our metabolic functions – and there is now widespread agreement that for many conditions, working on the circadian clock may have significant beneficial effects, especially for conditions associated with pain and stiffness such as the many forms of arthritis.
To that end, in a really interesting review on the effect of the circadian clock on cells that are intimately connected to joint health, the author ends with this hopeful conclusion that “interventions targeting circadian function” such as exposure to light, perhaps stronger focus on when we eat and what we eat, and when it’s best to do exercise, etc – should be explored for their use in treating arthritis.
And the reason such studies would be so welcome is that if these interventions are shown to be even minimally effective, these are things that anyone can do for themselves – cheap, self-directed, easy – which is way better than having to take a lifetime of often-very-potent drugs.
And when you think about it, if you have any form of arthritis, you don’t have to wait for doctor-validated studies to see if you can affect your circadian clock on your own by experimenting on changes in your schedule and habits.