Algae, Anchovy or Advil? Omega-3s for Neck and Back Pain

Topics: Aging and Costs of Aging, Vitamins and Supplements, Wellness and Health

You know the trouble Vioxx has seen. You may have even experienced it. Could enough fish oil relieve pain with fewer side effects?

Fish oil supplements are certainly safer than nonsteroidals. But what is the evidence that food can soothe arthritis pain ?

Omega-3 fish oil was given at 2.4 g daily for 2 weeks and then 1.2 g daily to 125 responding patients with arthritic neck and back pain by University of Pittsburgh neurosurgeons, for an average of 75 days in Spring 2004.

The patients continued to take their NSAIDs for 2 weeks–and three-quarters were taking Cox-2 inhbitors– and then were asked to stop taking them.

After a month, 3 of 5 still were off NSAIDs. 3 of 5 said their pain had improved with the omega-3s. Almost 9 of 10 said they would continue to take them.

EPA and DHA are the principal fatty acids in the capsules: they are anti-inflammatory, and fight off chemicals called (proinflammatory) interleukins.

These patients were given Nordic Naturals ProEFA. Look for a molecularly distilled, pharmaceutical-grade fish oil supplement free of contaminants.

  • Dear Dr La Puma,

    Is a dose of merely 2.4g really sufficient? I have been told by my physician to take at least 4g, could that be harmful?


  • I always suggest that people who are fortunate enough to have a relationship with a physician to take their recommendations.