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Is Your Diet Making Your Back Pain Worse?

Is Your Diet Making Your Back Pain Worse?

Back pain can develop for many reasons such as strained muscles, herniated discs, and arthritis. Some of these conditions develop slowly, while others (such as muscle injuries) may come on suddenly. Regardless of what initially caused your pain, your diet could be making your back pain even worse. 

Below, Dr. John Regan at Spine Group Beverly Hills explains four reasons why your diet may impact your back pain and what we can do to help you find relief here in Santa Monica, California.

1. A pro-inflammatory diet makes back pain worse

The Association of Academic Physiatrists recently presented a new study that linked diets high in inflammatory foods with increased back pain. A pro-inflammatory diet may lead to systemic inflammation which is a leading cause of chronic diseases that cause low back pain. 

High system inflammation can also increase your risk of type 2 diabetes and arthritis, both of which increase your risk of back pain. Foods that contribute to inflammation include red meat, processed food, refined grains (like white bread), sugary beverages, conventional snack foods, and any fried food. 

On the other hand, foods that help reduce systemic inflammation include fatty cold-water fish, foods high in omega-3 fatty acids, dark leafy greens, berries, avocados, olive oil, beans, spices (especially turmeric and cinnamon), and fresh herbs.

2. Dietary choices can make it hard to maintain a healthy weight

Being overweight or obese can also contribute to back pain. Unfortunately, poor dietary choices can make it more different to maintain a healthy weight. Excess weight can impact the natural curve of your spine. 

If the natural curve of your spine is altered, it can press on the shock-absorbing disks between your vertebrae and contribute to:

Eating nutrient-dense meals can help you feel satisfied while providing the nutrients your body needs. Focus on lean protein, fresh fruit and vegetables, and whole (not refined) grains.

3. A poor diet affects your bones

Osteoporosis is a bone disease in which your bones become weak, brittle, and prone to breaking. Osteoporosis can affect all of your bones, but it frequently compromises the bones in your back leading to vertebral fractures, deformity (kyphosis), and pain. 

You can reduce your risk of osteoporosis through weight-bearing exercise and ensuring you get enough calcium in your diet. Adults are recommended to get 1000 milligrams of calcium a day, but women over 50 need an additional 200 milligrams for a total of 1200 milligrams. Calcium helps support healthy bone growth, and vitamin D helps your body absorb calcium.

You can find calcium in fortified products (such as milk and orange juice), dark leafy greens, edamame, canned fish, cheese, and squash. Food that contains vitamin D includes cod liver oil, fish (salmon, tuna, and swordfish), fortified food, and beef liver.

4. What you drink affects your back pain too

Your diet consists of the food you eat and what you drink. Specifically, if you're not getting enough water, you may become dehydrated. Every system in your body requires proper hydration, and that includes your back. Not drinking enough water could affect the discs in your back, which are made up of about 80% water. 

Additionally, studies show that being dehydrated can intensify your perception of your back pain. Not drinking enough water won’t cause disc issues on its own, but it may exacerbate disc issues that you already have. Likewise, drinking copious quantities of water won’t repair a disc that’s already damaged. 

Beyond your diet: when to seek orthopedic care for back pain

Eating a healthy diet goes a long way in supporting your overall health, but it’s important to remember that there’s no magic diet that will cure back pain. If you’re experiencing back pain, you don’t need to suffer on your own. 

Here at Spine Group Beverly Hills, Dr. Regan can determine the source of your pain and shape a treatment plan to help you get back on track. He may recommend any of the following:

To learn more about your potential treatment options for back pain, book an appointment at our Santa Monica, California office today.

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