Joint Pain: Studies

Meta Analysis Of Fish Oil For Joint Pain

A meta-analysis of the analgesic effects of omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid supplementation for inflammatory joint pain.

Between 40% and 60% of Americans use complementary and alternative medicine to manage medical conditions, prevent disease, and promote health and well-being. Omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (omega-3 PUFAs) have been used to treat joint pain associated with several inflammatory conditions. We conducted a meta-analysis of 17 randomized, controlled trials assessing the pain relieving effects of omega-3 PUFAs in patients with rheumatoid arthritis or joint pain secondary to inflammatory bowel disease and dysmenorrhea. Meta-analysis was conducted with Cochrane Review Manager 4.2.8. for six separate outcomes using standardized mean differences (SMDs) as a measure of effect size: (1) patient assessed pain, (2) physician assessed pain, (3) duration of morning stiffness, (4) number of painful and/or tender joints, (5) Ritchie articular index, and (6) nonselective nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug consumption. Supplementation with omega-3 PUFAs for 3-4months reduces patient reported joint pain intensity (SMD: -0.26; 95% CI: -0.49 to -0.03, p=0.03), minutes of morning stiffness (SMD: -0.43; 95% CI: -0.72 to -0.15, p=0.003), number of painful and/or tender joints (SMD: -0.29; 95% CI: -0.48 to -0.10, p=0.003), and NSAID consumption (SMD: -0.40; 95% CI: -0.72 to -0.08, p=0.01). Significant effects were not detected for physician assessed pain (SMD: -0.14; 95% CI: -0.49 to 0.22, p=0.45) or Ritchie articular index (SMD: 0.15; 95% CI: -0.19 to 0.49, p=0.40) at 3-4months. The results suggest that omega-3 PUFAs are an attractive adjunctive treatment for joint pain associated with rheumatoid arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease, and dysmenorrheal.

PMID: 17335973

 

Supplementation Of Omega-3 Fatty Acids In Patients With Ankylosing Spondylitis

Scand J Rheumatol. 2006 Sep-Oct;35(5):359-62.

OBJECTIVE: To study the effect of supplementation with omega-3 fatty acids on disease variables and drug consumption in patients with ankylosing spondylitis(AS). METHODS: Twenty-four patients were randomized to either a low-dose (1.95 g omega-3/day) or a high-dose (4.55 g omega-3/day) supplement. Disease activity, functional impairment, erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR), and drug consumption were assessed during visits at baseline and at weeks 7, 14, and 21. RESULTS: Eighteen patients completed the study, nine patients from each group. The patients in the high-dose group exhibited a significant decrease in disease activity according to the Bath Ankylosing Disease Activity Index (BASDAI; p = 0.038), which was not seen in the low-dose group. Significant differences were not found on drug consumption or in functional capacity in either of the groups. No significant differences were found when comparing the results between the high- and low-dose groups. CONCLUSION: Omega-3 fatty acids in adequate doses may have the capacity to decrease the disease activity of AS. However, larger and better controlled studies are needed before any further conclusions can be made on the extent of this capacity.

PMID: 17062435

 

Fish Oil As An Alternative To Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs For Discogenic Pain

Surg Neurol. 2006 Apr;65(4):326-31.

BACKGROUND: The use of NSAID medications is a well-established effective therapy for both acute and chronic nonspecific neck and back pain. Extreme complications, including gastric ulcers, bleeding, myocardial infarction, and even deaths, are associated with their use. An alternative treatment with fewer side effects that also reduces the inflammatory response and thereby reduces pain is believed to be omega-3 EFAs found in fish oil. We report our experience in a neurosurgical practice using fish oil supplements for pain relief. METHODS: From March to June 2004, 250 patients who had been seen by a neurosurgeon and were found to have nonsurgical neck or back pain were asked to take a total of 1200 mg per day of omega-3 EFAs (eicosapentaenoic acid and decosahexaenoic acid) found in fish oil supplements. A questionnaire was sent approximately 1 month after starting the supplement. RESULTS: Of the 250 patients, 125 returned the questionnaire at an average of 75 days on fish oil. Seventy-eight percent were taking 1200 mg and 22% were taking 2400 mg of EFAs. Fifty-nine percent discontinued to take their prescription NSAID medications for pain. Sixty percent stated that their overall pain was improved, and 60% stated that their joint pain had improved. Eighty percent stated they were satisfied with their improvement, and 88% stated they would continue to take the fish oil. There were no significant side effects reported. CONCLUSIONS: Our results mirror other controlled studies that compared ibuprofen and omega-3 EFAs demonstrating equivalent effect in reducing arthritic pain. omega-3 EFA fish oil supplements appear to be a safer alternative to NSAIDs for treatment of nonsurgical neck or back pain in this selective group.

PMID: 16531187