Anti-Inflammatory Foods: How Nutrition affects the Pain Experience 

Many patients seek help at our clinic to get relief from their pain.

At our clinic we discuss the pain experience with our patients.  There is, of course, the origin of pain which may be one or more of several sources which may include the intervertebral disc, ligaments, muscles, tendons, the intervertebral structure or other soft tissues. The source of pain with these structures is often mechanical in nature.

But pain is a complex thing: not only do we have the physical mechanical source of the pain, but other factors affect the pain experience as well. For example, emotional and psychological stressors in our lives can magnify the pain experience.  In discussing this with patients, I emphasize the importance of them incorporating stress-relieving activities into their day. We all have “stress” in our lives, but how we handle the stress in a healthy way can make our pain more manageable.  I often tell my patients to identify those activities that are stress relievers for them and to “DO MORE OF WHAT BRINGS YOU JOY.”

In addition to our stress-coping strategies, nutrition, hydration and sleep play an important role in affecting our pain experience and when incorporated effectively into our daily routine, can play a significant role in helping our bodies to heal and recover.  You don’t have to have visible swelling or edema in a joint to have the presence of inflammation in your involved joints or extremities.  In reality, we all have some degree of inflammation in our body but when our inflammation is increased, it magnifies our pain and affects our pain experience.  Foods that are inflammatory act to increase our inflammation and this can lead to increased pain. 

Below is a list of  some of the foods that are anti-inflammatory in nature. That is, they help to decrease inflammation in our body which in turn, positively affects our pain experience and helps the body to heal.

  1. Berries, Grapes and Cherries: These fruits are full of antioxidants and vitamins that help to decrease inflammation.
  2. Bell Peppers: Full of vitamin C, they are powerful antioxidants. The more color the better!
  3. Green tea: Contains anti-inflammatory compounds that have been linked to decrease the risk of hear disease, certain cancers and obesity.
  4. Turmeric:  Contains a compound that has been found to decrease arthritic pain and has been found to have anti-cancer and anti-diabetic features as well.
  5. Dark Chocolate: Yes,  you read that right! Dark chocolate contains cocoa which is full of anti inflammatory antioxidants that reduce inflammation in nerves, our brain and arteries.
  6. Ginger: contains anti-inflammatory compounds that act to inhibit pro-inflammatory compounds in our body.  It also helps to boost our immune system.

Combine healthy eating, good hydration and exercise prescribed by our physical therapist and you’ll be on the right path to positively impact your pain experience!