Chronic back pain due to diet - Alison’s story


Every day, Howard and I receive emails from people who have experienced dramatic improvements by changing their diet. Alison’s story  - about 5 years of excruciating, non-stop back pain – grabbed my attention because most people don’t think about diet for back pain (or joint pain/arthritis for that matter …)

“In June 2010, I injured my lower back ... After two years on-and-off, the pain stayed for five years.  Every second, day and night …”

Alison also had ongoing knee and wrist pain from years earlier. Painkillers either didn’t work, or turned her into a zombie.  She also tried a tens machine, inversion therapy, saw an osteopath, doctor, two pain clinics and acupuncture … but nothing helped for more than an hour or two.

“I was suicidal for the last 5 years … I’m only 40, can I stand to live with this pain for another 40 years, and how bad will this pain be when I’m 80?”

In September 2016, Alison changed her diet to avoid processed foods that she thought might be contributing to her anger outbursts. But to her surprise, it wasn’t only the anger that improved.  As well as negativity, depression and “recently developed OCD of locking my car multiple times”, her back and joint pain improved:

“the less numbers and preservatives I consumed,  the less back, knee and wrist pain I suffered”.

What the specialists said

For years, specialists had been telling Alison to lower her stress levels, or lose weight, or pace activities. But as she says “I do all these things for months and there is no change”.

“Then I stop consuming preservatives and after a couple of months I cannot feel the pain …But no one cares, no one believes me … Both pain clinics I’ve been a patient at over the last few year just ignored me..”

The effect of food additives on joint pain was recognised over 40 years ago

In 1975, food additives and processed food were just starting to become common.  Dr Ben Feingold, Chief of Allergy at Kaiser-Permanente Medical Centre in San Francisco, was the first to realise that these new additives could cause adverse reactions including arthralgia with edema (joint pain with swelling). He also found that anyone who reacted to those additives may be affected by salicylates in diet and medication, see more below. His Feingold Diet avoided artificial additives and some natural salicylates and formed the basis for the RPAH Elimination Diet that we support today.

More reader reports about back pain & diet 

Alison is not the only one to find improvements in back pain, joint pain or arthritis due to diet:

By week 5 on the diet I have had a whole 8 days 97% headache and fatigue free, and pain free in my lower back and joints,  all just with changes to my food, no pain reliever medication needed.  - Jess (from story [1401])

I have rheumatoid arthritis, back damage and nerve issues. Since eating primarily Failsafe I have less nerve problems , my joints and back pain is less and I have less flareups! - from the facebook group (story [1305])

After having chiro for many years to help my bad back, I was relieved to find that by simply eliminating problematic foods for me, I became pain free like I had never done before. – Kellie (from story [1110])

I am 60 and for 4 years have been avoiding salicylates and wholemeal bread to help with arthritis and back pain. I have noticed a really big improvement in the long term.  I no longer have pain or jangly nerves and no trouble with stairs. The pleasure is back into walking. When my back gets sore it doesn't seem to go into that spiral that it used to, laying me up for days. –  (from story [807])

I have suffered with the pain and swelling of arthritis (including severe lower back pain…) for almost half of my adult life.   (30 years later, after doing the RPAH elimination diet with a dietitian) …  I am now virtually free of the symptoms of the arthritis. The acute & chronic pain and inflammation are gone. See the full, remarkable “Bernard’s arthritis story” here's%20arthritis%20story.pdf

Wondering why doctors are not interested in diet and prescribe drugs instead?

This question can be answered by books such as Deadly Medicines and Organised Crime: how Big Pharma has Corrupted Healthcare.  A reviewer on Amazon explains it well: “As a clinician in the healthcare system for 35+ years, I have to validate the author's sense that healthcare, and indeed virtually every aspect of medicine, has been subjected to and distorted by the commercial agendas and almost unlimited greed of big Pharma”. There is no profit in putting patients on diets.


Factsheet: arthritis, joint pain and diet

Our arthritis and joint pain story collection

Feingold BF, Hyperkinesis and learning disabilities linked to artificial food flavors and colors, Am J Nurs. 1975;75(5):797-803. full text

Peter C Gotzsche, Deadly Medicines and Organised Crime: How Big Pharma Has Corrupted Healthcare, 2013.

Richard Smith (former editor of the British Medical Journal)

Ray Moynihan & Alan Cassels, Selling Sickness, 2006.

Alison's full story [1446]

Factsheet: Introduction to food intolerance

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