Can Your Diet Affect Chronic Pain?

There are certain foods that are considered to cause inflammation in the body.

While pain is defined as “physical suffering or discomfort caused by illness or injury,” chronic pain is pain lasting longer than three months. Chronic pain affects over 100 million Americans; that’s more people than diabetes, heart disease, and cancer combined. Each September is designated as Pain Awareness Month where advocates like me help to raise awareness about issues related to chronic pain.

The most common forms of chronic pain are from migraines, lower back pain, knees, and neck pain. I happen to suffer from back and neck issues, along with fibromyalgia, and suffer some level of pain daily. Chronic pain can lead to depression, trouble sleeping or concentrating, and is the number one reason for long-term disability care in the U.S. It is very difficult to treat chronic pain. Opioids are often prescribed to people seeking relief from chronic pain, yet only about 23% of people experience relief. This can then lead to misuse, people self-increasing their dosages, and then often an addiction to pain killers.

Chronic pain manifests itself differently in everyone, which also means there is no one size fits all answer to treating it. Drugs, physical therapy, behavioral therapy, or supplements/diet – or some combination of the above – may offer relief. While an imbalanced diet may not be causing your migraines or back pain, it’s no secret that proper nutrition is the foundation to a healthy life, so why not consider your diet when it comes to chronic pain?

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A Holistic Approach to Fibromyalgia

Holistic health focuses on the whole person rather than individual illness or specific body parts.

As fibromyalgia is a complex and poorly understood syndrome, with no defined cause, I have found that doctors are more inclined to just treat symptoms. Years ago I became disillusioned and weary of the medical approach of prescribing medication for symptoms, rather than trying to get to the root cause of various health problems, so I started taking more control of my own health journey (read more: Becoming Your Own Health Advocate). I want to share how I approach my health and fibromyalgia holistically.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying my approach will work for anyone else, let alone everyone else. We are all individuals with different ailments, pain levels and thresholds, environments, and situations. I am just sharing my approach to managing my fibromyalgia to minimize flares and the disruption to daily life. And first, you have to understand what I mean by “holistic.”

“Holistic health is actually an approach to life. Rather than focusing on illness or specific body parts…[it] considers the whole person.”

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Why You Need Collagen

Collagen production decreases about 1% a year after age 20.

Let’s talk collagen for a minute, shall we? Collagen is the body’s most abundant protein. You need it for healthy skin, nails, hair, bones, ligaments, tendons, and muscles. Our collagen production decreases about 1% per year after age 20, so supplementing collagen can help you fight wrinkles, bone loss, and joint pain. As someone who knows all of these things from living with fibromyalgia and osteoporosis I have been using a collagen supplement for a few years now.

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Magnesium and Fibromyalgia

Magnesium plays a role in over 300 bodily processes.

I have long touted the benefits of magnesium (read past posts here and here) for pain relief and sleep. Dr. Roger Murphree calls it “the most important mineral you can take if you have fibromyalgia.” People with fibromyalgia tend to be deficient in this mineral, and when under stress your magnesium is used up. A fibro body tends to be under stress every day, especially during a flare, so it stands to reason supplementing magnesium can have great benefits.

“Relief is a wonderful emotion, highly underrated. In fact I prefer it to elation or joy. Relief lets the air out of the Tire of Pain.” ~ Adriana Trigiani

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