Chocolate and Back Pain

by James Wallace Harris, Monday, March 18, 2019

I doubt many people will associate chocolate with back pain, but I’ve experienced a connection. I’ve been dealing with spinal stenosis for many years and I’ve learned how to control it with diet and exercise because pills that fight pain and inflammation bother my stomach. I’ve learned that food can cause inflammation. I hate this idea because it’s all my favorite foods that indirectly add to my back pain. Inflammation causes the stiffness and numbness which leads to pain. Most people learn to relax back pain with an anti-inflammation pill, but if you pay attention, avoiding certain foods also has an anti-inflammation effect.

I was doing great this year. I’ve been on 16:8 intermittent fasting since 9/21/18, and off junk food since 1/1/19. About ten days ago I started experimenting with a few minor treats. However, one thing led to another and I fell off the wagon, binging on chocolate for two days. What stopped me was stomach pains. As I’ve gotten older, my stomach has gotten wimpier. Not only had I gotten my back almost pain free and a good deal more limber, but also stabilized my stomach into its quiet state. Going off my diet quickly let me know that value of eating healthy.

I don’t know why, but in recent years my stomach has become extra sensitive to two of my most loved foods: peanut butter and chocolate. When my stomach started hurting I immediately quit my chocolate binge. That’s when I realized that my back had taken quite a setback, proving how much diet contributes to inflammation. I was back to walking hunched over with a slight limp. Just last week I commented to myself that I was feeling much sprier in ages.

When I feel good, I become weak to temptation.

Needless to say, I’m back on my diet. I keep thinking what I eat shouldn’t affect inflammation that much, but it does. I created the above headline to sound absurd hoping to entice people to read this essay. However, I searched on this title and lo and behold, other people are writing about chocolate and back pain too.

I hate having to give up everything I love to eat. But I feel like Pavlov’s dog. Certain foods now come with a kick in the gut or whack to the back. The trouble is I can only remember my conditioning for so long before temptation strikes again. I’m hoping I can remember the miserable stomach pains I felt Saturday and the back pains from yesterday.




18 thoughts on “Chocolate and Back Pain”

      1. I found that I had a small muscle that would tighten up and put out a lot of pain and it always happened around Christmas but maybe one or two times also during the year. So I started looking into what do all of these have in common. As I started thinking that I was always given home-made chocolate candies that I love to eat during Christmas and the other times during the year and chocolate was eaten to much on each episode. So now I know and limit how much chocolate I eat at any one time. No back pains now.

  1. I hear you. I’ve read about dietary reactions to food, but most of mine are self-induced. For example, I rarely eat fried food, so now my stomach has forgotten how to digest it. I’ve also lost most of my interest in sweets—including chocolate which now works well as a laxative. Weight control is important. My problem is rewarding myself for some small achievement by indulging. The achievement can be very small … like not having indulged for a few days.

  2. I don’t have back problems, but I do have some swelling in my left hand. I went to an orthopedic surgeon who specializes in hands. He X-rayed my hand and showed me that I had arthritis and some bone chips floating around in my left hand. He recommended a cortisone shot. I agreed and minutes later I received my shot. The next day, I noticed the swelling in my hand went down. In a week, my left hand looked a lot like my trouble-free right hand. And, no more pain! I know cortisone wears off, but in the meantime I’m eating chocolate and peanut M&Ms!

    1. I’ve had cortisone shots. I had a terrible skin reaction to them. My body is weird. I wish I could just take the shots and pain pills and eat peanut butter and chocolate.

      1. Same here James! I have noticed some chocolate allergy reaction but it was more like my nose was getting clogged and I would get sneezy. After couple years of avoiding I’ve tried chocolate again and was mostly fine to even no reactions eventually but I feel like my sciatica on the left side is getting so bad a couple to a few hours after the treat I had to really avoid chocolate :-((( Peanut butter is the one I am still not 100% sure but I have been questioning it a lot

  3. Sorry to hear that, Jim. I had a bunch of cortisone shots over the years when my knees were getting progressively worse. They would work for awhile, and then wear off. I graduated to Synvisc shots–which worked for awhile and then didn’t. Finally, I got two new titanium knees so I’m pain-free there. But, I have numerous aches and pains elsewhere. Getting Old sucks.

  4. The fact they’re your most loved foods might be why you can’t handle them, you may have developed a food allergy to each of them. Which happens when someone eats a certain food all the time. It also might be the caffeine in the chocolate.

  5. I’m a nutritionist, often it’s the type of sugar in the chocolate that causes inflammation, corn syrup is in most chocolate because it is cheap. Soy is also a problem. Also cheap and often put in chocolate to make it smooth, very inflammatory. Before you think you cannot enjoy chocolate again, consider a very clean organic chocolate with only organic cane sugar added. Chocolate does have tannins and theobromide which some people are sensitive too. But cheap corn syrup and soy bothers just about everyone. XO

  6. This is 100% me. Suddenly around turning 48 I started getting severe grumbly tummy and lower back pain. Could not bend down or lift anything without having to squat down. 4 years later I have learnt it was my diet. Chocolate, peanut butter, cheese, gluten cereals and milk. Was great for the last month and had Easter chocolate last night and 12hrs later back is sore. Soo glad to hear it is something and others out there that is affected by chocolate too. Not in my head!!

  7. Yes me too. Chocolate literally gives me a pain in the neck, right at the base of my skull and can tyrn into a 3 day sinus headache a few days later. I had 7 small pieces last nght and can feel it in my neck today.
    have discovered that any inflamatory foods, eg gluten / dairy / wine go to my ‘hot spots’ and cause pain. Back sinus and sometime the ball joint of left big toe.

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