Chronic pain can be a debilitating condition. It can consume a person, leaving him or her incapacitated and unable to perform basic daily tasks. Prescriptions for pain medication have climbed 300 percent in the past decade. This has led to increased deaths: 46 people per day, or almost 17,000 people per year – that’s up more than 400 percent since 1999, according to Consumer Reports.
Opioids are a class of drugs that include the illicit drug heroin as well as the licit prescription pain relievers oxycodone, hydrocodone, codeine, morphine, fentanyl and others, the American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM) says.
There are alternative remedies, one of which includes natural foods. In general, eating a diet rich in anti-inflammatory foods can help with pain relief, Lara Felton, a leading RDN and head of the dietary team at mobile nutrition app ShopWell, says.
“Healthy fats, specifically the omega-3 fats are anti-inflammatories and can help with pain relief in a similar manner to how anti-inflammatory ibuprofen works,” she adds. "Make sure you’re eating omega-3 rich food sources like salmon, eggs (check for it on the label), flaxseeds, and pumpkins.”
Knee pain from arthritis or potentially exercise-induced wear and tear can be potentially alleviated with antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin, Felton says. You’ll find these powerhouse phytonutrients in leafy greens like spinach, Swiss chard, and kale.