Natural Ways to Manage Chronic Pain

By JoAnn Ridout, MPH, RD, LD
December 10, 2019

nutrition_back_pain.jpgIf you’re experiencing chronic pain, you are not alone. More than 100 million Americans suffer from chronic pain! In fact, chronic pain affects more Americans than diabetes, heart disease, and cancer combined. Are you one of the 100 million in chronic pain? I want to help you by sharing three effective natural ways to manage your chronic pain. First, let me tell you my personal story about chronic pain.

I suffered from chronic back pain and arthritis for years, eventually undergoing two back surgeries about 20 years ago. Those surgeries helped my back pain significantly, but I was still experiencing regular flare-ups and back spasms that were debilitating. 

When I started working at Nutritional Weight & Wellness, I learned how gluten and even non-gluten grains can cause pain and inflammation. So I ditched gluten, corn, and rice, and replaced them with healthy vegetable and fruit as my carbs. Also, I added lots of healthy fats like avocado, coconut oil, and nut butters. Within a few weeks my flare ups became less frequent and much less painful because I had removed the inflammatory foods l was eating and I added healthy fats.  Since I have followed a balanced eating plan and avoided inflammatory foods like gluten, corn, and grains, my flare-ups have been few and far between for at least five years.

I love helping clients who are experiencing chronic pain because I know how debilitating pain can be and how much nutrition can help. Together, we take three important steps in their healing:

  1. Remove foods that can lead to pain and inflammation
  2. Add foods that reduce pain and inflammation
  3. Add key supplements to help alleviate pain and inflammation

Believe it or not, often specific foods are to blame for chronic muscle, knee, or joint pain and inflammation, and determining what those foods are and how to avoid them will be critical in your healing. Some common inflammatory culprits are bread, gluten, corn, grains, dairy, sugar, as are foods and beverages that contain artificial sweeteners (like Equal or sucralose), MSG, and dyes (like red dye #40).

If you see that list and think, “Hmm, I eat a lot of that… What am I supposed to eat then?” don’t panic! Let me encourage you to keep it simple by eating real foods and avoiding foods known to be inflammatory (such as bread, gluten, corn, grains, dairy), as well as processed foods.

Here’s how: Eat every three to four hours, and be sure each meal or snack includes real animal protein (like eggs or salmon), real carbohydrates (like fruits and vegetables), and real fats (like olive oil, butter, nut butter, olives, and avocados).

bonebroth2.jpgIn addition to eating balanced meals, my go-to joint protector is homemade bone broth, because it naturally has nutrients (like collagen) which help to keep your joints healthy. I love to sip this throughout the day  to  keep my joints and body healthy.

If you have chronic pain, you also have inflammation in your muscles and joints. Adding a supplement to a healthy, balanced diet can help expedite your healing. Here are a few that I recommend.

My clients have experienced great relief with a supplement called Kaprex. You’re probably used to taking ibuprofen to alleviate your pain, but that can be hard on your liver and kidneys, especially if taken daily. Kaprex is a fantastic alternative because it’s a very effective natural anti-inflammatory supplement that doesn’t put stress on your liver or intestinal tract.

We recommend taking six tablets per day—two at each meal—until you start to see a response. It might take only a few days, or it could take up to a few weeks, depending on the severity of your chronic pain.

Another supplement that my clients love is Joint Revive because it specifically helps with joint pain. Currently there are about 700,000 knee replacements each year—isn’t that crazy! That’s a lot of surgeries. When you have to replace knees, that typically means that bone is rubbing on bone, which can be extremely painful, and that’s where Joint Revive really shines. It has undenatured type II collagen, which stops the degeneration of the joints. We recommend taking two tablets per day until you see some effects, and then reduce it to one per a day. The research has shown that you’ll generally see some results within 30 days, but the best overall effects are going to be over a period of 120 days. So be sure to commit to four months.

Lastly, Inflavonoid Intensive Care, which includes curcumin, a natural anti-inflammatory ingredient, may be beneficial to your joint health. We recommend taking two capsules per day with food.

These supplements are helpful in alleviating pain and inflammation, but eating a real-food diet of protein, healthy fat, and real vegetable carbohydrates is the most important factor in healing, and also helps you get the most benefit from supplements.

If you’re suffering from chronic pain and this all sounds overwhelming , I  encourage you to consider making an appointment with one of our nutritionists or dietitians, because it takes some detective work to come up with the right eating plan and combination of supplements to help reduce your specific inflammation and heal the tissues throughout your body. We’d love to help you.

About the author

JoAnn has always appreciated the value of good nutrition because diabetes and cancer run in her family. Not only does JoAnn understand chronic diseases, but also she has taken on challenging and complex health conditions when she worked as a registered dietitian at Courage Center for 25 years. JoAnn brings extensive experience, along with compassion and understanding to your health concerns. JoAnn graduated from the University of Minnesota with a bachelor of science in nutrition and dietetics and a master of science in public health. As a registered dietitian and nutrition educator, she has experience in therapeutic nutrition counseling, weight management, and nutrition education.

View all posts by JoAnn Ridout, MPH, RD, LD

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