Intermittent Fasting: Potential Utility in the Treatment of Chronic Pain across the Clinical Spectrum

Nutrients. 2022 Jun 18;14(12):2536. doi: 10.3390/nu14122536.


Dietary behavior can have a consequential and wide-ranging influence on human health. Intermittent fasting, which involves intermittent restriction in energy intake, has been shown to have beneficial cellular, physiological, and system-wide effects in animal and human studies. Despite the potential utility in preventing, slowing, and reversing disease processes, the clinical application of intermittent fasting remains limited. The health benefits associated with the simple implementation of a 12 to 16 h fast suggest a promising role in the treatment of chronic pain. A literature review was completed to characterize the physiologic benefits of intermittent fasting and to relate the evidence to the mechanisms underlying chronic pain. Research on different fasting regimens is outlined and an overview of research demonstrating the benefits of intermittent fasting across diverse health conditions is provided. Data on the physiologic effects of intermittent fasting are summarized. The physiology of different pain states is reviewed and the possible implications for intermittent fasting in the treatment of chronic pain through non-invasive management, prehabilitation, and rehabilitation following injury and invasive procedures are presented. Evidence indicates the potential utility of intermittent fasting in the comprehensive management of chronic pain and warrants further investigation.

Keywords: chronic pain; intermittent fasting; non-invasive management; prehabilitation; rehabilitation.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Caloric Restriction
  • Chronic Pain* / therapy
  • Clinical Protocols
  • Diet, Reducing / methods
  • Energy Intake
  • Fasting* / physiology