Nutrition plays a crucial role in preventing and eliminating pain and inflammation in the body. It’s important to understand what pain and inflammation are, the causes and symptoms, and how both nutrition and physical therapy can help. If you’re experiencing pain and inflammation in your joints, the cause could be more obvious than you think. Contact our office at OSR Physical Therapy to learn more about how we can help alleviate your pain and inflammation.
Why do we experience inflammation?
In many cases, inflammation is natural. Without inflammation, injuries would not be able to heal completely. It is the body’s way of promoting healing in response to physical harm or sickness. Pain and inflammation typically go hand-in-hand, so if you are feeling pain in a certain area, there’s a good chance that it’s also inflamed. With any wound, infection, tissue damage, or buildup of toxins in your body, your immune response will be triggered in order to initiate the healing process, thus resulting in inflammation.
While inflammation generally is a positive response, chronic inflammation can be an indication of a deeper underlying condition. Without treatment, chronic inflammation can lead to much worse outcomes, such as arthritis, diabetes, heart disease, and even some cancers. If your pain or inflammation has persisted for three months or longer, it is important to consult with a physical therapist as soon as possible, in order to get it under control.
Treating pain and inflammation with nutritious foods is a natural, easy, and healthy way to ease your discomfort.
Understanding Pain and Inflammation
Pain and inflammation are often connected. Inflammation is the body’s natural response when it’s trying to heal or protect itself after an injury. Usually this a good thing, however, inflammation is actually harmful when it becomes a chronic condition. According to Harvard Health, chronic inflammation can also lead to a variety of health ailments such as heart disease and diabetes.
Recognizing Pain and Inflammation – Causes & Symptoms
Did you know the food you eat may be a contributing factor to increased inflammation throughout your body? Nutrition plays a big part in the amount of pain and inflammation you might have. Inflammation can be caused by many different kinds of foods. Here are some of the most common foods that contribute to inflammation:
- Added Sugar – Foods with added sugar that isn’t naturally occurring can increase inflammation. Regular table sugar and corn syrup with high-fructose are the two main types of added sugar.
- Pasta & White Bread – These refined carbs or “empty calories” can cause excessive weight gain, which can also lead to inflammation.
- Processed Meats – Sausage, bacon, and smoked meats are usually processed and contain lots of extra sodium. Eating too much processed meat can cause inflammation.
Food is not the only culprit when it comes to pain and inflammation – even what you drink plays a role. Take soda, for instance. Sodas contain lots of unhealthy preservatives such as sodium benzoate, not to mention high amounts of sugar. Excessive alcohol drinking should also be avoided as it can cause issues with inflammation as well.
Just like there are plenty of foods to limit or avoid in your diet, there are also a ton of healthy foods to eat that can help decrease your chances of experiencing pain and inflammation.
- Garlic – Garlic alone may not be very appetizing, but it can add flavor to many everyday meals. Garlic contains diallyl disulfide, which has anti-inflammatory properties.
- Fish – Fish is high in omega-3 fatty acids, which naturally reduce inflammation. Cod, tuna, salmon, bass, and halibut are all excellent choices.
- Beans – Beans are great for easing inflammation and are also sources of protein and fiber. There are plenty of different kinds to try, such as pinto, garbanzo, black, or red beans.
There are several symptoms associated with inflammation. These often include swelling, redness, joint pain and stiffness. If you’re suffering from pain and inflammation changing your diet could improve your muscles, joints, and overall health.
A nutritious, anti-inflammatory diet:
Several patients who choose to participate in an anti-inflammatory diet report a significant decrease in symptoms. You can help speed up the healing process as the body purifies itself during the inflammation process by switching to a diet that complements the removal of toxins. The three basic components to an anti-inflammatory diet include:
- Less dairy and grains. In order to strengthen your body’s immune response as much as possible, you’ll want to try and avoid simple carbs and sugars completely. That means no pastries, no donuts, and no white breads. Dairy products should also be extremely limited, so be mindful of serving very little cheese or milk with anything. Whole grains such as barley, oats, brown rice, and wheat are best when practicing an anti-inflammatory diet.
- Less red meat. It is best to avoid red meat altogether in an anti-inflammatory diet, but if you must add some in there, it should be very scarce. One small piece of steak, one time per week, should be your maximum limit. The proteins in red meat require extra work from your kidneys to process; therefore, eating a lot of it will slow down your healing process. The good news is that chicken and fish are just fine for an anti-inflammatory diet.
- More vegetables. One of the best ways to reduce inflammation is to increase your veggie intake. This diet is most successful if you eat up to nine servings a day, with the vegetables preferably served raw. Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, and broccoli are some the best options. It is okay to substitute fruits for a couple of your servings, in order to break it up, but vegetables should be your main ingredient for the most part.
How Can Physical Therapy Help You?
Changing your diet is a wonderful start, but it may not be enough to eliminate chronic inflammation and pain. Physical therapy may be able to help reduce or even eliminate the pain you’re experiencing. Physical therapists use several methods to help. A few techniques would be manual therapy, dry needling, or ultrasound treatments. They may also use heat or ice therapy. A physical therapist might even give you stretching and motion exercises you can do at home to better your chances of having a successful treatment!
Monitoring what you eat and drink every day may be able to drastically decrease the pain and inflammation you’re experiencing. Physical therapy is a great option as well. The American Physical Therapy Association states that there is a clear link between pain and nutrition. It’s important to find a physical therapist with experience in treating pain and inflammation. Contact OSR Physical Therapy today to learn more information.
Tags: physical therapy, health and wellness, nutrition, healthy tips, healthy diet