Chronic pain is a lingering pain lasting more than 12 weeks. The pain can occur in nearly every part of the body, with varying intensities depending on the area affected or the cause. It may feel like a sharp, dull, burning, or aching sensation deep in muscle tissues or joints.
Cases of chronic pain vary from person to person. And various treatment methods can’t seem to agree on relieving or eliminating chronic pain suffering. But one thing for sure is the effect food has on chronic pain. Studies have found a close correlation between chronic pain and diet. Some foods can promote chronic pain relief, while others can worsen the pain. Let’s identify the foods that cause pain and those that help alleviate it.
Chronic Pain Triggers
What causes chronic pain in the first place? Chronic pain can be due to many different factors and is linked to various conditions and illnesses. Common causes and triggers of chronic pain include:
- Nerve damage
- Traumatic injury
- Bad posture
- Degenerative changes due to aging
- Illnesses such as cancer, IBD (inflammatory bowel disease), IBS (irritable bowel syndrome), fibromyalgia, hypertension, ulcers, diabetes, etc.
- Certain medications and treatments such as chemotherapy
Foods to Avoid
Here is a list of foods to avoid with chronic pain:
- Sugars: Sugar and chronic pain go hand in hand. Sugar increases inflammation and nerve sensitivity to pain.
- Bad fats: Avoid saturated and trans fats found in red meat, margarine, fast foods, and cream. Such fats exacerbate chronic pain from heart disease, obesity, hypertension, and diabetes.
- Dairy products: Dairy contains lactose, a type of sugar that may cause inflammation. Also, the protein in dairy products, particularly casein, is difficult to digest and may lead to discomfort in the gut.
- White flour: Processed white flour contains gluten, a common inflammatory ingredient.
- Nightshade vegetables: Veggies such as green peppers, eggplants, and potatoes can increase chronic pain, especially for those with arthritis.
- Processed foods: Most processed foods are packed with a lot of sugar, artificial flavors, and preservatives, many of which can increase inflammatory pain.
- Alcohol and caffeine: Cut down on alcohol, caffeine, and other strong stimulants if you suffer from chronic pain.
The Best Foods for Chronic Pain
Some foods have antioxidants and anti-inflammatory nutrients that give them therapeutic properties. Such foods include:
- Leafy and cruciferous greens: Dark leafy vegetables such as spinach, lettuce, and arugula combined with cruciferous greens such as broccoli, Brussels sprouts, and cauliflower are good for chronic pain sufferers.
- Healthy fats: Not all fats are bad. Natural fats and oils from fish, avocados, olives, and nuts can reduce inflammation.
- Fresh fruits: Dark-colored berries, cherries, and pomegranates are good at preventing inflammation.
- Wholegrains: Unprocessed whole grain foods such as nuts, legumes, and grains are nutritious, high in fiber, and promote anti-inflammation.
- White meat: Lean meat from fish and poultry is an excellent replacement for unhealthy red meat.
- Herbs and spices: Many spicy herbs such as black pepper, garlic, cinnamon, herbal tea, and ginger are rich in antioxidants and organic anti-inflammatory chemicals.
You can control chronic pain, to some extent, by adjusting your diet and some lifestyle habits. However, no diet can directly substitute conventional pain treatment. But you can at least relieve or avoid chronic pain by eating more of certain foods and less of others.
Get lasting relief from chronic pain at Carolinas Pain Center. Our pain specialists will help make your daily life more tolerable by managing muscular and joint aches and pains, regardless of the cause. Browse our service page to learn more about chronic pain and the solutions available to you.