Omega-3 Fats Relieve Joint Pain

Disturbed by the increasing use of pharmaceuticals with potentially serious side-effects, a University of Pittsburgh physician has found there are healthier, natural alternatives for managing joint pain.

According to a study by Dr. Joseph Maroon, professor and vice chairman of neurological surgery, substances typically found in fish — omega-3 fatty acids — might be an alternative to such non-steroidal, anti-inflammatory drugs as Motrin, Celebrex, Bextra and the discontinued Vioxx.

Omega-3 fatty acids are increasingly recognized as important to human health, said Maroon, who also is a member of the American College of Nutrition.

In the study, “Natural Alternatives to Non-steroidal Anti-inflammatories,” Maroon and colleague Jeffrey Bost surveyed 120 patients — whom they had placed on omega-3 essential fatty acids found in fish oil — for treatment of their neck and low-back pain resulting from disc disease and arthritis. Two previous clinical trials also showed that arthritis patients who take fish oils could eliminate or sharply reduce their use of anti-inflammatory drugs.

Today, micro-distilled fish-oil capsules are widely available as a substitute for cod-liver oil and for fresh fish.  Maroon said fish-oil capsules have almost no side-effects. He recommends that those who aren’t taking blood-thinning medications take 3 to 5 grams daily.

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