Foods to Avoid For Better Pain Management

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Foods to Avoid For Better Pain Management

Most people have experienced some form of pain in their lifetime.  There are many causes for pain, and not all pain is directly due to a medical disease or illness.

Often times people do not realize that foods can trigger pain or increase its intensity in many people.

If one has gout, for instance, which is a heredity form of arthritis, certain foods should be avoided because of their high purine content:

  • Organ meats, such as liver
  • Yeast
  • Fish and shellfish, such as herring, sardines, anchovies, mussels, shrimp, and scallops

Also, some vegetables should be avoided, such as:

  • Spinach
  • Cauliflower
  • Asparagus
  • Mushrooms

Uric acid is the end product of purine metabolism in humans.  If there is increased production of uric acid or decreased renal excretion of uric acid, hyperuricemia develops.  Uric acid crystallizes, builds up in the body and gets deposited in tissues and joints causing pain.  The big toe is most often affected by gout.

Some foods can trigger a migraine headache.Migraine headaches are triggered by certain foods that contain nitrates (such as luncheon meats and hot dogs), tyramine (such as in aged cheeses and smoked fish), monosodium glutamate (MSG), or aspartame.  These agents have effects on blood vessels.  Migraine headaches are also triggered by too much or too little caffeine.

Chest pains can be caused by acid reflux or GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease).  When the lower esophageal sphincter relaxes too frequently, excessive amounts of acid flows back into the esophagus causing pain.  Foods that should be avoided that contribute to heartburn are:

  • Chocolate
  • Coffee
  • Peppermint
  • Greasy or spicy foods
  • Tomato products
  • Alcoholic beverages

Also, some citrus fruits, such as oranges, grapefruits, and lemons should be avoided.

These are but a few of the pain states that are affected by the foods we eat.  Lifestyle modifications, such as avoidance of certain foods, are essential in the management of pain.  These modifications are difficult to make at times, but are crucial.



1.  Dorland’s Illustrated Medical Dictionary, 25th Edition.

2.  JAMA, Nov.24, 2010, Vol 304, No.20.

3.  JAMA, June 24, 2009, Vol 301, No.24.

4.  American Journal of Gastroenterology.