Sufferers of musculoskeletal pain know all too well the difficulty it brings. And for those who have chronic pain conditions such as osteoporosis and osteoarthritis, in place of there being no true cure, management options for the pain are priceless. But can you do anything more than relying on medication and exercise? Well, the answer is yes: you can look to your food choices for another helping hand in managing everything from chronic musculoskeletal pain or simply easing pain situated in the back.

Focus on protein sources

Have you been advised to up your intake of protein? According to one paper, four reasons for this are:

  • The body’s pain relievers derive from proteins — Amino acids make their way into the bloodstream through the intestine (where what you eat is absorbed). They then act as building blocks for compounds that help with pain relief.
  • Musclecartilage needs protein to grow — Amino acids are needed to build muscle which can go on to protect your bones and build strength.
  • The activation of glucagon — Glucagon increases blood glucose levels and blocks glucose storage as fat. This can prevent a rise in insulin levels, carbohydrate cravings, and pain flares.
  • Decreasing inflammation — Protein containing foods such as fish and green vegetables contain anti-inflammatory properties, lowering experiences of pain. 

Need to bolster your protein sources? Add foods such as beef, fish, and eggs to your plate to up your protein intake. For vegan diets, make sure you’re eating enough pulses (lentil, beans, and soya products). There are protein supplements out there too in the form of drinks and snack bars.

Sensible carb intake

Watch your calorie and carbohydrate intake, as these can have a detrimental effect to your musculoskeletal pain management. Consuming excess calories by eating unhealthy foods, or overeating, can cause weight gain. This can then lead to excess weight carried around the waist and obesity — both of which can make musculoskeletal pain worse. This is due to extra pressure on joints and inflammation.

What is inflammation in the body? In general, it’s part of the body’s immune response to fight infection. But, there are cases when inflammation doesn’t shut down — this becomes chronic inflammation. It is this which is the underlying cause of many diseases, health problems, and pain. In addition to excess calories, refined carbohydrates, saturated fats, and trans fats can cause inflammation too.

By watching your calorie intake and keeping your weight at a healthy level, you can help combat musculoskeletal pain. In fact, one study found that weight reduction of more than 10% has the potential to lead to important changes in pain and function.

Consuming omega-3

Our overall health relies on a good amount of omega-3 fatty acids. Unfortunately, they’re not made by the body, so we need to get them from our diet.

Joint conditions such as Rheumatoid Arthritis have been noted as being helped by the consumption of omega-3. Again, this is an anti-inflammatory which deals with the issues mentioned earlier.

If you’re looking to add more sources of omega 3 to your diet, it can be found in oily fish (such as salmon and tuna), calamari, olive oil, and some plants and nuts. A mixture of these things should ensure that you’re getting enough of the fatty acid.

Vitamins are important

Getting enough vitamins in your diet is vital regardless of whether you suffer from chronic pain or not. But some musculoskeletal conditions are a result of vitamin deficiencies, and certain vitamins can keep pain at bay:

  • Vitamin B — one benefit of this vitamin is that it keeps amino acid homocysteine under control. High levels of this could be linked to lower bone density and therefore musculoskeletal issues. Increase your intake of vitamin B through chicken, turkey, fish, oats, and more.
  • Vitamin K — plays a large part in cartilage metabolism and is a promoter of cell survival, both important processes in the body that can prevent musculoskeletal issues. Get your intake of vitamin K through green leafy vegetables such as lettuce, spinach and beans.
  • Vitamin D — this helps with the absorption of calcium which is essential for bone growth. Eggs are a great source of vitamin D and are easy to incorporate into your diet.  Another way to up your intake is with safe levels of sun exposure.

This is just a small portion of the ways your diet can be adapted to help against musculoskeletal pain. Always speak to your GP and nutritionist before changing your diet and for more advice on how the foods you eat can ease chronic pains.