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Desk jockeys will try anything to alleviate the strain in their backs, necks and shoulders – the result of sitting at that desk for way too long. From swapping the chair for a yoga ball to ditching the desk for a treadmill, there’s no end to the creativity. If this sounds familiar and you’re desperate for a solution, have you considered changing your diet? Here’s why.

Nutrition for Back Pain?

We’ve written before about causes of back pain, both physical and emotional, but diet can be a surprising factor – and it’s often overlooked. There’s no way to definitively say that your back pain in a result of your diet, since symptoms can vary from severe pain in the low back to nagging neck pain. But the science that links back pain and diet really applies to back discomfort across the board, because inflammation causes muscles to contract – and then stay tight. Tight muscles, over time, can lead to back spasm and irritation, and that means pain and discomfort.

Some of the culprits in your diet that can trigger inflammation, which happens with an excess of cortisol in the body, are the usual suspects – caffeine, sugar, alcohol, enriched white flour, processed foods, etc. But there are more bad habits that can be causing that sore back. If you regularly skip meals, eat excessively large portions, or eat a restrictive diet for long stretches, you could also be setting yourself up for pain.

How to Make Changes

If you suspect that your back pain could be related to your diet, there are a few things you can try. First, try varying your diet by changing up any hard-and-fast routine you may have. If you opt for oatmeal as a breakfast choice every morning, switch to eggs. You may find that the bloating and stomach pain that’s become part of your daily experience – and maybe even that stiff neck – is alleviated just with that modification.

Another, more involved approach is to try an elimination diet. Avoid the inflammatory foods outlined above – which isn’t easy, but it’s definitely doable! – for a week and see how your body responds. You may be stunned at the difference.

Dr. McSweeney here in Reno works with many patients on these kinds of nutrition issues. She’s found great success with her patients and their level of relief with simple diet changes. If you’ve never considered nutrition as a factor in your ongoing back or neck pain issues, a consultation with Dr. McSweeney could be very enlightening.