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Can Fish Oil Help to Ease Back Pain?

A recent study appearing in the journal of Surgical Neurology suggests that omega-3 fatty acids found in fish oils might be beneficial in treating neck and back pain. The study is exciting because the supplements could provide "a safer alternative" to nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) for some patients, note the authors.

The study consisted of 250 people with nonsurgical neck or back pain, all of which were taking NSAIDs. For the first two weeks, patients received a daily dose of EPA and DHA of 2.4 grams. Thereafter, participants were to cut the amount in half and reduce their NSAID usage over the next one to two weeks. One month into the study, surveys were sent to study participants. The survey showed:

Half of the patients had stopped taking any NSAIDs for their pain (59%) 60% noted an overall improvement in their pain 60% reported less joint pain 80% were satisfied with their improvement 88% would keep taking fish oil supplements

One of the main authors of the study, Joseph Maroon, MD states, "Our study adds to the numerous previously published studies showing the health benefits of omega-three EFAs (essential fatty acids), which include blood clot prevention, pain reduction, immune system boosting and healthy blood vessel dilation".

Maroon, J. et al, "w-3 Fatty acids (fish oil) as an anti-inflammatory: an alternative to nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs for discogenic pain", Surgical Neurology, April 2006; Vol. 65, Issue 4: 326-331.

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