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Think Twice About Eating That- CRPS and Diet

Published on February 16, 2016 under Guest Blogger for RSDSA

By Patricia Calderon, Guest Blogger for RSDSAAnti-inflammatory foods as a part of a diet to minimize CRPS pain

 

Who would have ever thought that what we eat while having CRPS/RSD would cause us more pain then we already experience? I found out the hard way when my symptoms were getting worst and worst each day, then some days not so much. “There has to be a reason for this,” I said to myself. So, I kept a diary of all the foods I ate and my pain scale throughout the day. Low and behold, I found out that I was making my pain increase each day with the foods I was eating. Consuming a lot of processed foods was one of them. Because I am always in pain and can’t stand for more than 10 minutes, microwavable foods were all I ate at one point. In this article, I will be sharing what foods to eat and which to avoid all together, along with a recipe that has helped my inflammation each day.

CRPS/RSD is often described as injury to a nerve or soft tissue that does not follow the normal healing path. Many physicians agree that the complications and pain from CRPS are due to inflammation. Basically, if you have CRPS, you suffer from chronic inflammation. Eating an anti-inflammatory diet focuses on eating foods that heal and naturally reduce inflammation and also reduce triggers of inflammation. Foods that tend to trigger the body’s inflammatory response can cause an increase in joint pain, stiffness, redness, swelling, heat, and even loss of function. Since most sufferers of CRPS/RSD already have a heightened inflammatory response, eating foods that can increase inflammation can worsen already inflamed and painful areas and lead to further damage.

Benefits of an anti-inflammatory diet

Following an anti-inflammatory diet provides the building blocks to:

  • prevent further nerve damage
  • help heal current nerve damage
  • increase circulation
  • improve sleep
  • increase energy
  • decrease pain perception
  • improve mood
  • increase joint mobility
  • strengthen immune system

Let’s talk about foods to avoid. Coffee and chocolate contain oxalic acid -so too much of these can inhibit mineral absorption. It has been stated that chemical compounds in coffee can interfere with the opiate receptor sites in the brain, interfering with nerve transduction and pain relieving mechanisms (though I haven’t read any scientific research on this) which results in a decrease in pain tolerance. So you have to imagine that I, a caffeine junky, can’t have caffeine anymore. This was one item in my food diary that I started to slowly ween off of and day by day I noticed less pain. My pain was not fully gone, just relieved a bit more than other days.

Stay away from sugars. Sugar triggers an inflammatory/aging process called “glycosylation”. Avoid white refined sugars and flour products including white bread, bagels and white rice. Also to be avoided are sugary sodas and other high sugar drinks.

Animal fats contain an inflammatory agent called arachidonic acid (AA). Unfortunately, this means avoiding or strictly limiting red meat, butter and whole eggs. Stay away from processed meats (hot dogs, sausages, bacon, etc.) that contain nitrates, which can really increase inflammation.

Now that we got the bad food out of the way, let’s talk about foods to eat. I know what you’re thinking… Do I have to become a vegetarian or go vegan? The answer is no, but if you find that eating that way works by all means GO FOR IT! Eating a variety of colorful fruit and vegetables, and rotate them, to get the maximum nutrients (don’t just eat the same vegetable every day). Smoothies are a great way to get more nutrients into your diet if you are in pain and not feeling particularly hungry. I found that smoothies where the way to go for me in the morning and at lunch because they were less time consuming and due to all the medication I don’t feel hungry enough to eat a meal. Prepping the smoothies ahead of time and storing them in the freezer is best. When you feel like having a smoothie, all you do is empty the contents in the blender and add juice.

Turmeric, ginger, nutmeg, and cinnamon are particularly good spices to try to include in your diet. Not only do they enhance flavor, they also have various phytochemicals that have been studied for their anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties. Below is a turmeric juice recipe I drink every morning. This helps fight inflammation throughout the day.

Anti-Inflammatory Turmeric Juice

 1- Medium Carrot

1 -tbsp Ginger

1- juice from lemon or orange

1 tbsp Honey

2- tbsp Turmeric

2- cups Coconut Water

Directions: Place all ingredients into a high speed blender and blend until smooth. Drink as is or strain through a strainer. ENJOY!!

Pictures by:

www.tastingtable.com

 

Note: This is based on the writer’s experience and opinions.

186 Comments

  1. Sarah

    Hello. Thanks for all of the help. It’s been years of hell. About 5 yes now dealing with my foot on fire, not being able to put a shoe on my foot except a certain sandal and everything that comes along with CRPS. I have seen about 7 different doctors all whom passed me from doctor to doctor to finally find out it’s CRPS. I need any kind of help from any one here suffering daily. I have 6 kids, a big house. I had spinal surgery less than 1 year ago. I was on heavy steroids for 3 years which made me gain 30 lbs and I can’t walk or do anything to even lose a darn lb. I mean it’s just going downhill. Talk about being depressed. I also have RA and AS in my spine. Idk. I keep thinking one day something will be able to help people like us and live a somewhat “normal” life. Even a couple days out of the week. Any suggestions. Thanks everyone

  2. Joel Billman

    Hi I recently got diagnosed after 7 years of pain. I had a spinal cord injury-and had 2 fusion surgeries that caused my condition. Had similar symptoms and doctors missed my condition till now that I am chronic and bed bound. Send me your meal plan and any other info. Thanks

  3. Suzanne

    I have found your website today and was really interested to read the article on diet and the direct impact to crps.
    I was diagnosed 6 weeks ago and exploring different approaches to help manage this.
    I would really appreciate if you have any dietary information.
    Suz_r@msn.com

    Thankyou in advance

  4. Barbara J. Antekeier

    I broke my calcaneus (heel) on September 11, 2020 and had surgery one week later to repair including 2 plates and 6-7 screws. At 4 weeks post-op I was diagnosed with CRPS. I would appreciate receiving any information on the diet plan as well. Thank you!

  5. Monique Ortuno

    I was diagnosed with CRPS after a fall I took and shattered my leg from the knee down. After each surgery it spread further up my leg, I’ve 4 surgeries the lat bei g a new knee and a rod so now it’s all the way up my leg and even mygroined area and last week it now hits my right ankle. I wake up my leg feels fine and soon as I hit my feet it the ground my calf feels like a Turnip it is tightening it my leg so much so that I start losing feeling in my leg and my skin turns red and my left leg is darker than my right leg.. The more walking I do the worse it becomes if I sit and do nothing nothing changes personothing changes personally I choose to walk and move around and not allow it to affect me I keep myself busy and occupied by doing stuff Just thought I’d have to think about it but oh my God does it hurt when it hurts and I never know where or what part or when it hits I could be in the grocery store and it will hit my leg and it literally takes my breath away. I always thought of myself as a very strong person but this has definitely put myself to the test.

  6. Laura B

    In my experience with CRPS, nightshades (tomatoes, potatoes etc) and citrus inflame me the most and grass-fed beef is great. So I think the diet link is specific to each person. Go to a holistic practitioner who can test for food sensitivities. Apart from processed foods, which we should all avoid.

  7. Denise

    I have been told I have crps just wondering if anyone can send me some information for which food to eat and smoothie recipes Thankyou thinking of you all we will all be okay ❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️

  8. Cybill

    I was diagnosed with CRPS two wks ago after a recent spinal fusion. I’ve read that getting on top of this within the first 6 months is crucial. Could someone please send me more information? Thank you

  9. Diane Flanagan

    I have CRPS in my back and both feet and shins. I also suffer with serotonin syndrome so I’m very limited with what medication I can take. I’m looking at a more holistic approach now and want to start by changing my diet but I’ve no clue where to start. Can anyone send me a meal plan to help reduce inflammation?
    Email: flanagan001.df@gmail.com

  10. Melody Green

    I have CRPD after wrist surgery. If anyone can give me a diet for this disorder, I would appreciate it every much’ I am in pain everyday, it’s been 4 months of physical therapy and my third nerve block. I am now looking for holistic ideas, diet? Therapy, etc…

  11. Bonnie Barber

    I have had Chronic Progressive MS since a reaction a Hep B vaccine in 1999 (it’s now listed as a rare side effect by Merck) The injury to the nerves brought on what was originally diagnosed as RSD in 2000, but now called CRPS. Since then, not knowing about Ketamine, I’ve had surgeries & injuries that feel like they are relived over and over again. I am trying to find a dentist who will use that, because a needle stick with novocaine causes me to feel like I need a root canal in every tooth on that side – so I’ve avoided the Dentist, too.

    I’ve been a lacto vegetarian for 40+ years (no fish, or gelatin either) and just cut out all dairy although I added pasture raised eggs when I realized I was starting to react badly to soy. I’ve been getting worse, and my CRPS is now full body, In addition, my ankles swell, sometimes one ankle, sometimes both. Sometimes the entire foot or both – and discolored. Because I can’t predict when an ankle or foot discolors and swells. I was concerned it was heart-related -I took pictures to my Dr and he said it was the RSD. I’m not overweight. I’m finding it harder and harder to stand for more than a few minutes. ANY diet possibilities, with the exception of meat, fish, etc. Would be so gratefully appreciated. While I’ve dealt with pain for 20 years, it’s becoming unbearable. If I can even adapt your plan to vegetarian/vegan, it’s worth the try for some relief. Thank you again.

      1. Jillian Hinkson

        I sprained my ankle in June 2020, and followed various treatments which did not work. Had a Calcaneal Osteotomy to repair damaged ligaments in October which made my pain worse. I had severe pain wearing a cast for 6 weeks. I was diagnosed with CRPS in February 2021. This explained the severe pain with the cast. Turns out that this invasive surgery was unnecessary. I have been off work all this time because I can’t walk on concrete floors – my job requires walking most of the day. I have started walking in the park on only the grass for exercise. I have been a vegetarian for many years and I occasionally ate eggs and fish. I am now vegan and this helps with the pain. If I eat anything with animal fat (even in baked goods) my pain increases. I am working on removing all sugar from my diet because sugar also increases pain.
        I found the website nutritionfacts.org this site gives info on using food to treat and reverse disease. I downloaded their app DailyDozen. Here is an explanation from their website:

        Dr. Greger’s Daily Dozen was developed based upon the best available balance of evidence. Rather than being a meal plan or diet in itself, it is simply a checklist to inspire you to include some of the healthiest foods in your diet. Our health-focused app is designed to help you think about meal planning and how you can improve the nutrient density of your meals. It is an aspirational minimum that can be customized to meet your specific needs. Think of it as your food diary.
        Also, take a look at Dr. Greger’s ‘How Not to Die’ book and the TV program Go Healthy for Good you can see short video clips on YouTube or full length programs on the Hope Channel or at hopetv.org.
        Most of all it is important to be stress free. I am hoping to go into remission soon and return to work in August.

  12. Patricia Kernahan

    Hi Alexis I as well, as the many posts that I just read have had CRPS for 3 years now and have been suffering with relentless pain on a daily basis. Can you please forward me your diet plan too.Thanking you in advance. Pk

  13. Lianne Dube

    Hi, doctors and physio think i might have that…so much in pain, since september, diagnosed with a plantar fasciitas but now pain in my upper leg, numbness in foot, colorchanging in my leg, foot and leg cold as hell……last night was my worse…so much pain, didnt sleep much…its getting hard, on body and soul……..was wondering about the diet people are talking about…thank you….

  14. Danny

    I’m almost at the end of my rope with this mess. It hit me hard at 38 years old along with MS, I’m 45 now and itjust keeps getting worse. The MS is being managed but the pain in my feet is unbearable. I’ve been to the ER 5 times within 2 months just to get relief. Pain clinic doesn’t help. I just had a spine stimulator implant but it doesn’t help with the flares. Doctors don’t know what to do and has never mentioned a diet. I would greatly appreciate any help or information because I can’t take this much longer. I’m basically bedridden from it. I don’t want to put my wife through the stress of having to take care of me and it’s getting to the point where I can’t take care of myself. Thank you for your time and efforts.

  15. Sara

    I have RSD. Suggestion: stuffed sweet potatoes and stuffed squash (any kind). Stuff with lean chicken or ground turkey and tons of veggies with spices for extra flavor. I top with fat free Greek yogurt to keep fat down but other toppings and sauces work. Very filling!
    Also lots of fish. And and chicken “stir fry” with tons of different veggies.
    Open for suggestions too please! Thank you!

  16. Melissa Arnold

    Hello, I was recently diagnosed with CRPS and am trying to avoid medications. This article was very helpful! Is there a meal plan listed somewhere? I ordered a cookbook but would like to start ASAP. Thank you for any tips, suggestions, or info you may have!

  17. Cilla Donovan

    My daughter 10 has had pain for over a year, totally ignored, think we finally getting answers, never heard of crps before, I’m so very sad for her, wish I could take her pain, hopefully we will get there,managing her pain has been so hard as they have been telling me she is just looking for attention.. I would live to get help with diet as she can be poor to eat meals for me…I’m lucy in that she loves all foods the color of the rainbow..
    Cilla

  18. Melanie Lawrence

    Could I get your meal plan please? I’m desperate to get better and deteriorating quickly over last year following a severe nerve injury after rupturing my T1-T2 and losing use of my hand. I had surgery but all my MRI’s post surgery show abnormal inflammation in my spine and brachial plexus. I’m a single mom and have lost my ability to provide for my kids and quality of life.

  19. Karen Warfield

    I have had RSD for over 40 years. After many blocks, trigger injections and several surgeries.
    I struggle to just eat! I have never had any doctor recommend a diet. My family is worried about my eating. Glad to know I love what I can eat. I would love to get recipes to make a difference. Thanks
    Karen

  20. Sandy

    I had 15 pain since 2017 but not dignosed until may 2020. Doctors paid no attention when i said now bad the pain was. Finally EMG showed crps. Thanks for talking about diet. I was eating all the wrong things. By the way I discovered taking half an Excedrin extra strength and half a Norco relieves a lot of pain for a couple of hours as needed daily. Nothing else worked for me. Nothing. Can someone send me a diet plan? Email is oceanlady1800@gmail.com. thanks Sandy

  21. Connie Ball

    I would love the meal plan also. I was diagnosed 2/92 the good Lord keeps me going and thankfully I am able to still work. Anything that is natural would be appreciated! Thank you

  22. Dan

    So, my wife has CRPS. This read was a Godsend as I had never put 2+2 together and thought “Diet” however, neither have any of the physicians we’ve consulted over the last DECADE.
    You list essentially my family diet, one that is unlikely to change as the “bad juju” that would ensue (and possibly riot/revolt). I’m curious though because you say “you don’t need to go vegan” but in essentially the same breath say no meat, dairy, eggs, sugar, refined flour oh and eat a large variety of fruits and vegetables, maybe a smoothie here and there. What else is there? Please don’t see this as an attack, we’re just frustrated and tired. Well, I’m frustrated and tired, she is all of the above and in constant pain. If vegan is the answer, so be it. However this grill master / budding chef is going to miss the steaks on the grill… Any help, advice or information would be greatly appreciated and welcome.

    thanks,
    Dan

      1. Sherry KP

        Hi Alexis, I just found this site. You must have answered Vinny Marsala’s request for a meal plan for those of us with CRPS. Would you mind forwarding me “whatever” info you may have for dietary needs? I would greatly appreciate it. My email is: CompassionHeals@comcast.net

        Thanks in advance & God Bless!
        Sherry

        1. Annie

          Hi Alexis, I just found this site. You must have answered Sherry’s request for a meal plan for those of us with CRPS. Would you mind forwarding me “whatever” info you may have for dietary needs? I would greatly appreciate it. I am ready to try anything….My email is: aroberge66@rogers.com
          I thank you in advance for your time
          Annie

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