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03.01.2020


Fish oil for lower back pain?

Fish oil for lower back pain?
Fish oil supplementation protects the intervertebral discs against damage. This is suggested by an animal study that researchers from Cedars-Sinai Medical Center published in the Medical Science Monitor. If the intervertebral discs are damaged due to physical causes - for example due to a training injury - fish oil reduces the amount of cartilage that disappears in the intervertebral discs. Or should we say: does fish oil accelerate the recovery of the intervertebral discs?

Study
The researchers damaged the intervertebral discs of rats [Injured] with a surgical procedure. After two months, they determined by MRI scans to what extent the disks had recovered.

During these two months, half of the rats received omega-3 fatty acids daily. The researchers used OmegaRx 2 Liquid Fish Oil from Zone Labs. This consists of EPA and DHA (2:1).

The other half of the rats received no active substances.

Results
According to the scans, the amount of nucleus pulposus [NP] in the damaged intervertebral discs was greater in the rats that had received omega-3 fatty acids. The nucleus pulposus is the elastic and resilient inside of intervertebral discs.


Fish oil for lower back pain?


Mechanism
The researchers do not know exactly how omega-3 fatty acids limit the damage to intervertebral discs. Perhaps the fatty acids inhibit inflammation, they speculate. The researchers base this suspicion on the shift in the arachidonic acid: EPA ratio in blood of the test animals that received fish oil.

Arachidonic acid is a metabolite of omega-6 fatty acids. The body body uses arachidonic acid as a raw material for inflammatory factors. The shift suggests that EPA displaces arachidonic acid, thereby reducing the production of inflammatory factors.


Fish oil for lower back pain?


Conclusion
"This study suggests that n-3 fatty acids dietary supplementation might have potential protective effects on the progression or spinal disc degeneration", write the researchers. "Daily oral supplementation with 530 mg/kg/day or pharmaceutical grade n-3 fatty acids for 2 months decreased AA/EPA ratios in blood serum, and reduced signs of intervertebral disc degeneration degeneration."

"Further research is needed to evaluate the effect of n-3 fatty acids on disc degeneration in large cohorts with different degrees of disc degeneration."

"Furthermore, n-3 fatty acids dosing needs to be optimized," the researchers conclude.

If the rats were adult humans, they would have received 4-6 grams of fish oil daily. That is on the high side. The European Food Safety Agency EFSA thinks that people can consume up to 5 grams of fish oil with DHA and EPA every day. [EFSA Journal 2012;10(7):2815.] It could just be that the optimum dose of fish oil for humans is considerably lower than 4-6 grams per day.

Source:
Med Sci Monit. 2019;25:9531-7.

More:
Q10 may protect cartilage in the spine against decay 18.10.2018
Resveratrol helps spinal discs grow 15.12.2008

Archives:
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Joints & Tendons


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Supplementation with 10 grams of glycine per day makes your joints stronger
Athletes can protect their joints against wear and injury by supplementation with about 10 grams of glycine per day. The same regime can accelerate the healing of injured joints.

Strength training helps back pain
If you have more or less continuous back pain, but doctors can't find a clear cause, strength training is likely to help.

Weak back and you still want to do deadlifts? Try using a trap bar
Athletes who have a weak back but who still want to do deadlifts might be able to do them by using a trap bar instead of a straight barbell. This way of doing deadlifts protects the lower back.