How Dietary Choices Can Affect Neck Pain

If you suffer from mild to moderate chronic neck pain, then your doctor may have recommended anti-inflammatory medications such as ibuprofen. Severe neck pain may not respond to over-the-counter anti-inflammatory drugs, and because of this, your physician may recommend prescription pain medications.

While effective in treating severe neck pain, prescription pain medications can cause significant side effects and may even lead to addiction. If you are interested in non-pharmaceutical neck pain treatment options, consider changing your diet. Here are some ways your dietary choices can affect your neck pain. 

Inflammation Suppression

Certain foods, especially those high in omega-3 fatty acids, can suppress systemic inflammation. Consuming omega-3 foods such as fresh fish, nuts, olives, and avocados can help dampen inflammation of the joints, tendons, and muscles in your neck.

Omega-3 fatty acids can also help restore neck mobility, decrease pain, and improve your range-of-motion. If you prefer to get your omega-3s through fish oil supplements instead of food, talk to your healthcare provider. While fish oil supplements are considered safe, they may be contraindicated in people who take prescription blood thinners, which are also known as anticoagulants. If you take fish oil supplements while taking anticoagulants, you may be at risk for abnormal bleeding because fish oil can alter the way your blood platelets normally clot. 

Cytokine Production

Cytokines are pro-inflammatory chemicals that are released in response to allergic reactions. High levels of circulating cytokines can cause sneezing, fever, and runny nose. They can also cause severe muscular pain in your neck. If you have allergies, consuming foods high in histamine may trigger the release of cytokines, raising your risk for neck and body-wide pain. Foods high in histamine that may trigger cytokine release include smoke meats, eggplant, and sauerkraut.

Your doctor can refer you to a nutritionist who can individualize a low-histamine diet for you which may help treat your neck discomfort without having to take medication. Not only might a low-histamine diet help restore your neck mobility and diminish your pain, but it may also help improve the symptoms of your seasonal allergies. 

If you are seeking alternative neck pain treatment options, consider the above dietary interventions. It is important to note, that while the above dietary considerations are considered safe, talk to your healthcare provider before making drastic changes in your eating habits. In addition to pain relief, certain dietary changes may also help improve your overall health by lowering your blood pressure and stabilizing your serum glucose levels. Speak with a professional about what you can do about your neck pain