Omega-3 Benefits: Omega-3 and Pain
Omega-3 benefits for pain
Post-surgical, neuropathic and inflammatory pain and Omega-3
Resolvins (derived from oega-3 EPA and DHA) can reduce inflammatory and post-surgical pain (1). The products produced by the oxidation of polyunsaturated fatty acids are among the lipid mediators with analgesic properties that act during different stages of inflammation in response to tissue injury. In addition, they may be involved in the peripheral mechanism that regulates access to nociceptive information in the spinal cord and brain (2). Omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids directly attenuate the neuronal and glial processes underlying neuropathic and inflammatory pain (3). Supplementation with omega-3 is beneficial in the treatment of patients with neuropathic pain (cervical radiculopathy, upper thoracic outlet syndrome, fibromyalgia, carpal tunnel syndrome, burns, etc.) (4). Both basic research and clinical studies have shown that dietary consumption of omega-3 fatty acids produces a reduction in pain associated with rheumatoid arthritis, primary menstrual pain and inflammatory bowel disease (5-7), to the extent of permitting a reduction in the dose of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) in some of these diseases (8).
Chronic pain and Omega-3
Due to both the direct action on brain structure and its anti-inflammatory properties, supplementation with omega-3 can be a beneficial strategy to improve pain and anxiety and depressive symptoms in patients with chronic pain (9). A dietary intervention involving an increase in omega-3 consumption and a reduction in omega-6 reduces headache and improves the quality of life of people who suffer from it (10-12).
This is highly promising with regard to treating chronic pain, although in this section we have overlooked the animal model studies, in which joint administration of omega-3 fatty acids and morphine had additive anti-nociceptive consequences and lessened the development of tolerability. In addition, analgesic activity is obtained with sub-therapeutic doses of morphine. This indicates that the use of omega-3 jointly with opiates could help reduce the adverse secondary effects of the latter (13).
Non-surgical discogenic pain and Omega-3
In non-surgical discogenic pain (both upper and lower back), the pain reduction obtained with omega-3 fatty acids in controlled studies is equivalent to that obtained with NSAIDs (14) and at doses higher than 2.7 g/day for at least three months, they reduce the dose of NSAIDs in patients with rheumatoid arthritis (15).
Muscle pain and Omega-3
Omega-3 fatty acids, together with other nutrients, favour an increase in the distance that patients with peripheral vascular disease and intermittent claudication can go without pain (16).
Omega-3 supplementation represents a safe and effective alternative to traditional anti-inflammatory drugs. This is particularly important in long-term treatments and for athletes, who often require a treatment for their injuries (17). Furthermore, omega-3 consumption could be effective for alleviating muscle pain after eccentric exercise (18).
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