Fish Oil as a Treatment for Neuropathic Pain
What is neuropathic pain?
Neuropathic pain occurs when the central nervous system or the peripheral nerves are damaged. Peripheral neuropathy usually begins in the longest nerves of the body, such as the feet and hands. As the condition progresses, it moves up the arms and legs.
Because the spine and nerves are intertwined and work together, issues in the spine can cause nerve pain. Lumbar herniated disc is a common form of nerve pain that occurs when a disc between the vertebrae becomes herniated and places pressure on a spinal nerve root. Once the nerves become damaged and neuropathy becomes an issue, false signals are sent from the peripheral nervous system and central nervous system to the spinal cord, and then to the brain.
Treatment for neuropathic pain
Finding treatment for neuropathic pain has historically been difficult. Medications to treat neuropathic pain may have limited effectiveness, adverse side effects, or both. Recently, omega-3 fatty acids, particularly in the form of a fish oil supplement, have been considered for their potential efficacy in the treatment of neuropathic pain.
What are omega fatty acids?
Omega fatty acids are polyunsaturated fats, or good fats. Polyunsaturated fats are an excellent replacement for saturated fats in the diet. Saturated fats are unhealthy and increase the risk of heart disease and stroke.
The three most common types of omega fatty acids are omega-3, omega-6, and omega-9. Omega-3 fatty acids provide the most health benefits and are found in various food sources. The body cannot produce these essential fatty acids; therefore, it is important to consume them through diet or supplements, such as fish oil.
Fish oil as a treatment for neuropathic pain
Fish oil is the most common type of omega-3. Individual case studies found that omega-3 fatty acids were effective for the treatment of neuropathic pain in several instances. Fish oil has anti-inflammatory properties that can reduce neuropathic pain. Supplementing with fish oil may also help repair damaged nerves. Additional research is needed in the overall effectiveness of fish oil and omega-3 fatty acids as a treatment for nerve pain.