Last Updated: August 16, 2022

Pain is an uncomfortable sensation and emotion associated with injury or damage to muscles, nerves, bones, etc. Pain can also occur without known injury or damage to body tissues.

What is pain?

Pain is a signal from the nervous system that something may be wrong and it can be a symptom of many conditions. It is an unpleasant feeling, such as a prick, sting, burn, or ache. Pain can be sharp or dull, and it may be temporary, intermittent, or constant.[1]

A revised definition of pain from the International Association for the Study of Pain (IASP) is as follows: “an unpleasant sensory and emotional experience associated with, or resembling that associated with, actual or potential tissue damage.”[2]

How could diet affect pain?

There is no strong evidence linking diet to pain severity, but some hypotheses exist. For example, it has been suggested that moving from a Western diet (high in processed foods) to a diet high in purportedly anti-inflammatory foods (e.g., fruits and vegetables) may help alleviate chronic pain. Also, consuming foods with prebiotics and probiotics that can alter the gut flora and alleviate dysbiosis (an abnormal gut microbiome) may reduce gastrointestinal pain.[3]

Which supplements are of most interest for pain?

Supplements usually vary depending on the type of condition causing the pain. For example, for osteoarthritis pain, supplements of interest include glucosamine, chondroitin, curcumin, ginger, omega-3 fatty acids, and others.[4] For cancer and other types of pain, some supplements of interest include cannabidiol, cannabis, willow bark, and others.

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  1. ^The content of this page was partially adapted from MedlinePlus of the National Library of Medicine
  2. ^ Revised Definition of Pain
  3. ^Simona Dragan, Maria-Corina Șerban, Georgiana Damian, Florina Buleu, Mihaela Valcovici, Ruxandra ChristodorescuDietary Patterns and Interventions to Alleviate Chronic PainNutrients.(2020 Aug 19)
  4. ^Mathieu S, Soubrier M, Peirs C, Monfoulet LE, Boirie Y, Tournadre AA Meta-Analysis of the Impact of Nutritional Supplementation on Osteoarthritis Symptoms.Nutrients.(2022-Apr-12)
  5. ^F M Blyth, L M March, A J Brnabic, L R Jorm, M Williamson, M J CousinsChronic pain in Australia: a prevalence studyPain.(2001 Jan)
  6. ^Harald Breivik, Beverly Collett, Vittorio Ventafridda, Rob Cohen, Derek GallacherSurvey of chronic pain in Europe: prevalence, impact on daily life, and treatmentEur J Pain.(2006 May)
  7. ^Damian Hoy, Christopher Bain, Gail Williams, Lyn March, Peter Brooks, Fiona Blyth, Anthony Woolf, Theo Vos, Rachelle BuchbinderA systematic review of the global prevalence of low back painArthritis Rheum.(2012 Jun)
  8. ^Taylor SL, Kaur M, LoSicco K, Willard J, Camacho F, O'Rourke KS, Feldman SRPilot study of the effect of ultraviolet light on pain and mood in fibromyalgia syndromeJ Altern Complement Med.(2009 Jan)
  9. ^Asta Juzeniene, Johan MoanBeneficial effects of UV radiation other than via vitamin D productionDermatoendocrinol.(2012 Apr 1)
  10. ^Caron JP, Kreher MA, Mickle AM, Wu S, Przkora R, Estores IM, Sibille KTIntermittent Fasting: Potential Utility in the Treatment of Chronic Pain across the Clinical Spectrum.Nutrients.(2022-Jun-18)
  11. ^Bonanni R, Cariati I, Tancredi V, Iundusi R, Gasbarra E, Tarantino UChronic Pain in Musculoskeletal Diseases: Do You Know Your Enemy?J Clin Med.(2022-May-06)