Home > Treating Back Pain > Can Diet Improve Back Pain?

Can Diet Improve Back Pain?

By: Suzanne Elvidge BSc (hons), MSc - Updated: 17 Dec 2010 |
 
Can Diet Improve Back Pain?

Diet may have an impact on certain types of back pain, but just as there isn’t one simple cause of back pain, there isn’t one simple diet solution for back pain.

Losing Weight

Whatever the cause of back pain, being overweight puts an extra strain on the joints of the back, especially in the lower part of the back. This is known as the lumbar region (see ‘Weight Gain and Back Pain’). The best way to lose weight is to eat fewer calories in the form of a healthy diet based on fruit and vegetables, low fat proteins and whole grains, and avoid eating too many high-fat, high-sugar foods. Even losing just 10% of the body weight has a significant effect on the joints.

It is a good idea to talk to a doctor before starting a weight loss regime.

Back Pain Caused By Osteoporosis

Osteoporosis is a disorder where the bones lose mass and become weaker. Osteoporosis can cause back pain when the weakened vertebrae (the bones of the spine) become damaged (see ‘Osteoporosis and Back Pain’).

Osteoporosis seems to get worse more quickly in people with low levels of vitamin D in the blood, and low levels of vitamin D have also been linked with low back pain. A balanced diet rich in calcium (found in green, leafy vegetables and dairy products) and vitamin D (in dairy products, or made in the skin in sunlight), especially in young people, can help prevent osteoporosis.

Back Pain Caused By Rheumatoid Arthritis

Rheumatoid arthritis is a disease where the joints become inflamed and painful, and while it generally affects the joints in the hands, wrists and feet, it can also affect the joints in the neck and back. There are many different theories around the effect of diet on rheumatoid arthritis, some of which are supported by science and some of which may just be old wives’ tales.

A review of scientific studies of diet indicated that a Mediterranean or vegetarian diet may reduce the pain of rheumatoid arthritis, but neither diet had an effect on physical function or morning stiffness. A study of a combination of fish oil supplements and a diet low in arachidonic acid (found in animal fats) showed that this might lead to improvements in the inflammation (and therefore the pain) in rheumatoid arthritis.

Some people have suggested that avoiding vegetables related to nightshade, including aubergines, peppers, potatoes and tomatoes, might help rheumatoid arthritis pain, but no studies have proved this.

Back Pain Caused By Osteoarthritis

In spinal osteoarthritis (spondylosis), the cartilage covering the joints of the spine wears away, the discs begin to degenerate, and pieces of cartilage can cause inflammation (see ‘Spinal Arthritis’). This causes pain and stiffness. There are studies that suggest that the supplements glucosamine and chondroitin may help in knee and hip pain in osteoarthritis. However, there are no studies confirming the same effect in back pain. Be aware that chondroitin can interact with drugs taken for blood clotting disorders.

You might also like...
Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice..
Why not be the first to leave a comment for discussion, ask for advice or share your story...

If you'd like to ask a question one of our experts (workload permitting) or a helpful reader hopefully can help you... We also love comments and interesting stories

Title:
(never shown)
Firstname:
(never shown)
Surname:
(never shown)
Email:
(never shown)
Nickname:
(shown)
Comment:
Validate:
Enter word:
Topics
Latest Comments
  • BackPainExpert
    Re: Back Pain and Hernia
    Janet - Your Question:I've had hernia surgery 4th of December 2017, they called it a Ventral hernia. Well I've been dealing wit horrible…
    11 December 2017
  • Janet
    Re: Back Pain and Hernia
    I've had hernia surgery 4th of December 2017, they called it a Ventral hernia. Well I've been dealing wit horrible lower back pain that has…
    10 December 2017
  • Harry
    Re: Dehydrated Discs
    Dear can anybody tell me what happens with me When i bend forward to push flush of washroom then i experience some force pull me forward and after…
    6 December 2017
  • motorman
    Re: Tilted Pelvis
    I have now been suffering realy bad diabolical pain in my right hip & down my leg & i have used just about all the gels that are available, plus lots…
    13 November 2017
  • Grumpygran
    Re: Cauda Equina Syndrome
    I have small herniatios of l4 l5 with probable compression of Cauda Equina . This was an unexpected finding as the MRI was done because of…
    29 September 2017
  • Jsisjd
    Re: A Spinal Tap Caused My Back Pain
    I had suicidal back pain and leg pain for 7-8 months after a spinal tap until the pain slowly subsided. Today 1 year later, i…
    1 September 2017
  • BLONDIE
    Re: Who is at Risk of Developmental Back Pain?
    Just want to let you all know that I find the medical info on ligaments and back problems to be very informative…
    12 August 2017
  • Kat
    Re: Dehydrated Discs
    My ll yr old girl has bulging disk tear always in pain took her a and e. She now seeing back surgeon in a week not half a year how can this pain…
    25 June 2017
  • eadndel drinkh20
    Re: Dehydrated Discs
    Arch your back by pushing off floor with arms straight with hips and legs flat on floor repeat 6 times 3 to 4 time a day. This arch will hurt but…
    8 June 2017
  • Ahmed
    Re: Dehydrated Discs
    I also have same problem plz suggest me to which doctor I should refer neurologist or orthopedic I m unable to stand plz suggest me
    6 June 2017
Further Reading...
Our Most Popular...
Add to my Yahoo!
Add to Google
Stumble this
Add to Twitter
Add To Facebook
RSS feed
You should seek independent professional advice before acting upon any information on the BackPainExpert website. Please read our Disclaimer.