Anti-Inflammatory Diet for Pelvic Pain Management

Jane Akre
October 1, 2016
still standing graphic

Mesh News Desk, March 10, 2016 ~ Thanks to Still Standing for her series on the management of pelvic pain following a mesh implant. Her contribution as someone who has studied and teaches pain management professionally, is very much appreciated. Still Standing cannot be identified because she is involved in litigation. Last month, she authored Medical Management of Mesh Complications (here). *Note her challenge to readers in the last sentence! You are invited to submit your essays for publication. All opinions are welcome.

Notes on anti-inflammatory diet for pain management, by Still Standing

Sometimes, when our pain is so intense, especially in the pelvic area, it is hard to step back and look at some of the systemic things that are going on even at the cellular level that can impact the chronic nature of pain. Understanding these systemic processes will not make pain magically disappear, but applying knowledge about pain and inflammation can have an impact on our daily experience of pain. Making some dietary changes can have a significant impact on inflammation, which drives pain.

Pain, is the result of inflammation. Inflammation is what happens when your body senses a threat and unleashes its immune function. Inflammation can take place anywhere in the body and generally it is the result of some kind of physical trauma. But, as seen in pain that becomes chronic, inflammation and pain can develop away from the area of the original trauma. Mesh women well understand this and can have diagnoses of fibromyalgia, TMJ, Interstitial Cystitis, chronic UTI, auto immune disorders, even depression. While there is not hard scientific evidence that links mesh to auto-immune disorders, many mesh implanted women report that they have developed one post mesh.

Prolift partial explant

Prolift partial explant

Think for a minute about inflammation that you can see. Think about a cut you have had on a finger. Over the next few hours, your body responds by sending in chemicals that help stop the bleeding initially? You might then see redness around the cut. You will most probably feel pain. This is a signal that your immune system is responding to the cut by segmenting that area off and targeting it with white blood cells. Over time, the cut heals, the redness goes away and you forget about the injury.

erosion and secondary infection

When you have chronic pain, your immune system gets stuck on high alert and even though the initial trauma has healed, your body's immune system continues the attack on your body which can trigger higher pain.

Your body does not like intrusions, like a cut, or mesh. The immune system goes into high alert to try to get rid of the intruder. Bringing down inflammation by looking at some common things that increase inflammation and learning ways that lower inflammation can help. It is commonly recognized that being overweight increases inflammation. Exercise generally helps reduce inflammation.

Stress increases inflammation, calm reduces it.

One important, but sometimes overlooked contributor to inflammation and pain is diet. There are foods that definitely increase inflammation. These are, of course, the foods that we turn to for comfort--high fat (pizza, red meat, mayonnaise), high sugar, processed carbohydrates (such as cookies, cakes, donuts, pasta, white bread, chips). Another major driver of inflammation in our diet is dairy (milk, ice cream, cheese, and yogurt. Aspartame, found in my favorite Diet Coke is also high on the list as well.

Image from Amazon

Image from Amazon


Eliminating, or at least reducing these things in our diets can reduce inflammation throughout our body while eating more anti-inflammatory foods can help decrease pain. Here are some good anti-inflammatory foods: fish, nuts, fresh vegetables especially dark and leafy ones like broccoli, kale, spinach, and fruits, flaxseed, whole grains, and other things that aren't nearly as appealing as the high inflammatory ones.

One food I love that is, in small quantities, good for you is chocolate, YEAH! Not milk chocolate, but very dark chocolate. Dark chocolate bars can be found in most box stores. Trader Joes has really good ones, but I have bought some at Dollar General that are also quite good. Two or three squares is the approximate daily limit, but I’ve been known to stretch that amount.

Once you decide to try to eliminate, or at least reduce, these foods, you may find that your pain is less intense.

I tried to go cold turkey on all of the major inflammatory foods: wheat, dairy, sugar, eggs, red meat as well as some other foods I tested highly sensitive to. Pork, rice, oats, tomatoes, peanuts. I did ok for a couple of weeks, then I stepped off the deep end of food cravings into a land of donuts, hamburgers, angel food cake, and that was just in one day. So I have had to step back,, forgive myself for the breakdown, and do a slower elimination.

Dark chocolate, Apex nutrition

Dark chocolate, Apex nutrition

This on again, off again approach will not be as successful, but it keeps me from derailing completely. Anything that you can do to reduce inflammation is a step forward, so do what you can. If you could just pick one of the major drivers of inflammation--sugar and dairy---and commit to not having one or both over two or three weeks, you might see an amazing difference in how you feel. You really have nothing to lose, except some pain, so it is definitely worth the investment of time.

Since the mesh, I have developed cysts on my nails at the cuticles that break open and ooze and other knots in my finger joints. Going dairy and sugar free has absolutely eliminated these areas of inflammation. Stepping back into sugar and dairy...especially dairy brings them back again, so I am gradually losing my taste for both. I use cashew milk for my protein smoothies and coconut milk for cooking. If you have any of these external signs of inflammation, you can be sure that the same process is going on in the body tissues you can’t see.

I would be interested in challenging the readers with a three week no dairy challenge and we could report our results here, then maybe go for more elimination the following weeks. #

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