10 Best Foods for Sciatica and Back Pain

by Tracy Davenport, Ph.D. Health Writer

The cause of sciatica and back pain can vary from person to person. In some cases, the cause of the pain is inflammation even without any disc compression. Anti-inflammatory medications are sometimes recommended for treatment. What you eat can also play a role in reducing inflammation in your body. Read ahead to find out which foods can help you feel better if you suspect inflammation is contributing to your back pain.

Pineapple cut up on round plate.


Pineapple contains bromelain, an enzyme known for its anti-inflammatory properties. Bromelain has demonstrated significant anti-inflammatory effects such as reducing swelling in sinusitis, sore throat, and arthritis. Pineapple enzymes have also been used successfully to treat rheumatoid arthritis and to speed up tissue repair.

fresh parsley.


Parsley contains compounds known as flavonoids that are abundant in fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and plants. Flavonoids have many healthful benefits including the ability to fight inflammation. Apigenin is one of the flavonoids found in parsley and has been shown to reduce inflammation in both lupus and arthritis.

Celery close up


Celery also contains the anti-inflammatory flavonoid apigenin. In addition, celery is high in fiber and is extremely low in calories, fat, and cholesterol. It is a very good source of folate, potassium, B vitamins, vitamin C, and vitamin A.

Red onions cut up on cutting board.


Onions contain a compound known as quercetin, which is well known as a potent anti-inflammatory agent according to the Royal Society of Chemistry. Incorporating more onions into your diet is very simple since they can be prepared in multiple ways and added to many different recipes.



Broccoli belongs to the cruciferous family of vegetables. Broccoli is a close relative to Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, and cabbage. Sulforaphane, a major component of broccoli, is known to possess anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer properties according to the Journal of Preventive Nutrition and Food Science. Broccoli is also low in calories and rich in essential vitamins, minerals, and fiber.

Grapes red and green


Anthocyanins are common plant pigments that give the red and blue colors to some fruits and vegetables including grapes. Anthocyanins are believed to work in two different ways, both by reducing cell types that promote inflammation and increasing anti-inflammation molecules. Grapes belong to the berry family and make a great snack or can be easily added to smoothies.

Teas and a cup of tea


According to the Arthritis Foundation, if you want to fight inflammation, drink tea. Green, black, oolong, and white teas all contain plant-based compounds that have anti-inflammatory properties. Even though these teas taste different, they all come from the same plant. Green and white teas have the highest polyphenol levels. Herbal teas come from other plants with varying antioxidant levels.

Soybean harvest.


Genistein is the major compound present in soybeans that is known for its role as an anti-inflammatory. Genistein has been shown to inhibit the production of proinflammatory molecules in the body. While there have been mixed reviews on this food, it has been shown to have a positive effect on rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes, metabolic disorder, neurodegenerative diseases, and chronic colitis by influencing the inflammatory response.

Organic leafy greens at farmers market.

Leafy greens

Leafy greens are chock full of magnesium. Diets rich in magnesium have been shown to promote sciatic nerve regeneration and reduce inflammation. Choose dark leafy greens such as baby spinach, collard greens, kale, or Swiss chard for the most magnesium.

Picking blueberries.


Blueberries are the favorite anti-inflammatory food of registered dietitian Eleanor Baker. In an email interview she explained why: “Blueberries are an excellent source of the anti-inflammatory phytochemical, anthocyanin. You can enjoy them fresh while they are in season or frozen out of season for optimal nutrient content.”

Tracy Davenport, Ph.D.
Meet Our Writer
Tracy Davenport, Ph.D.

Davenport is the founder of Tracyshealthyliving.com. Using the latest scientific research, she helps people live their healthiest lives via one-on-one coaching, corporate talks, and sharing the more than 1,000 health-related articles she's authored.