Joint pain causes everyday activities like walking, jumping and exercising difficult. Most people rely on over-the-counter medication to help ease the pain, but studies show such remedies only offer short-term relief, especially for people who have rheumatoid arthritis or osteoarthritis. Rheumatoid arthritis is an inflammatory disease that affects the joints and is caused by problems in the immune system. Osteoarthritis, on the other hand, is a degenerative condition that affects bones and joint cartilage. Both forms of arthritis are associated with stiffness, joint pain and mobility problems. New treatment regimens involve inducing disease remission through the aggressive use of disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs), which are often used in combination with other therapies to minimise inflammation. Despite the efficacy of DMARDs, many patients have turned to natural alternatives like fish oil to alleviate the pain caused by the diseases. A Sunbury Chiropractor can provide additional details about how fish oil works.
What is Fish Oil
Fish oil is made from the body tissue of fatty fish like salmon, sprat, tuna, sardines, whale blubber and mackerel. It is obtained by taking supplements or eating fish. The supplements are available in the form of capsules, liquid, pastilles and chewable tablets. Fish oil has high levels of omega-3 fatty acids that are available in two types- docosahexaenoic acid (12% of DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (18% of EPA). It also contains small amounts of calcium and iron and vitamins A, B and D. Cod oil is different from fish liver oil in that it contains higher levels of vitamins A and D. As such, patients taking cod oil to treat arthritis need larger quantities to obtain omega-3 fatty acids.
How Fish Oil Relieves Joint Pain
Omega-3 fatty acids work by modifying immunological responses involved in the pathophysiology of rheumatoid arthritis, including reactive oxygen species reduction and the production of inflammatory cytokine macrophages. The DHA and EPA chemicals suppress the production of inflammatory prostaglandins and leukotriene by converting them into anti-inflammatory compounds called resolvins. The substances also reduce the ARA (arachidonic acid) content in the immune cells to help them trim down the production of inflammatory eicosanoid mediators.
Effectiveness of Fish Oil on Joint Pain
A review performed in 2012 found that there was consistent evidence that DHA and EPA from marine sources have a positive effect on joint pain. It also reported a reduction in morning stiffness, which is a common symptom of Rheumatoid arthritis. The review concluded that fish oil supplements were suitable for RA patients who have mild joint pain. A study conducted in 2016 showed that patients who took omega-3 supplements daily needed less analgesic medication. It is a type of pain killer used to minimise arthritic pain. However, patients experienced maximum benefits after three months of taking the supplements.
The Arthritis Foundation recommends taking 2.6 grams of fish oil supplements twice a day. Be sure to look for a supplement that contains 30% of the active EPA and DHA ingredients. Pregnant women should avoid taking more than 3 grams of fish supplements a day as it increases the risk of bleeding. Also, extremely high doses are associated with gastrointestinal intolerance and mercury contamination.