The Squeaky Joint

Question: Is there research on whether fish oil supplements help ease joint pain?

Answer:  There is considerable research on fish oils and the inflammation of rheumatoid arthritis, as well as some limited early research on fish oils and osteoarthritis, or degenerative joint disease, said Dr. Sheldon S. Hendler, co-editor of The PDR for Nutritional Supplements.

The fish oils in the studies are eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), both omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids.

“Daily ingestion of at least three grams of a mixture of EPA and DHA for 12 weeks or longer has been found to reduce morning stiffness and the number of tender joints in those with rheumatoid arthritis,” Dr. Hendler said. Those treated were reported to reduce or discontinue use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, he said.

In a recent pilot study, 250 osteoarthritis patients were given similar fish oil doses. They reported significant improvement in overall pain and reduction in NSAID use, with no ill effects from the fish oil, Dr. Hendler said.

“Daily ingestion of at least three grams of a mixture of EPA and DHA for 12 weeks or longer has been found to reduce morning stiffness and the number of tender joints in those with rheumatoid arthritis,”

Fish oils inhibit the synthesis of substances that contribute to inflammation. Osteoarthritis “mainly involves the breakdown of joint cartilage associated with aging,” not inflammation, Dr. Hendler said, but as it progresses, some components of inflammation appear that may be inhibited by fish oil, which may also prevent the breakdown of cartilage.

 

Source: nytimes.com

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