Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic inflammatory disorder that typically affects the small joints in your hands and feet. Unlike the wear-and-tear damage of osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis affects the lining of your joints, causing a painful swelling that can eventually result in bone erosion and joint deformity.
An autoimmune disorder, rheumatoid arthritis occurs when your immune system mistakenly attacks your own body’s tissues. In addition to causing joint problems, rheumatoid arthritis sometimes can affect other organs of the body — such as the skin, eyes, lungs and blood vessels.
Although rheumatoid arthritis can occur at any age, it usually begins after age 40. The disorder is much more common in women than in men. Treatment focuses on controlling symptoms and preventing joint damage.
Omega 3 Supplementation Study
Most clinical studies examining omega-3 fatty acid supplements for arthritis have focused on rheumatoid arthritis (RA). A number of small studies have found that daily supplementing of Marine Phytoplankton heavy in live omega-3’s, help reduce symptoms of RA, including joint pain and morning stiffness. One study suggests that people with RA who take omega-3 may be able to lower their dose of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). However, unlike prescription medications, EFA’s do not appear to slow progression of RA, only to treat the symptoms. Joint damage still occurs.
Laboratory studies suggest that diets rich in omega-3 fatty acids (and low in the inflammatory omega-6 fatty acids) may help people with osteoarthritis, although more study is needed. New Zealand green lipped mussel (Perna canaliculus), another potential source of omega-3 fatty acids, has been reported to reduce joint stiffness and pain, increase grip strength, and improve walking pace in a small group of people with osteoarthritis. For some people, symptoms got worse before they improved.
An analysis of 17 randomized, controlled clinical trials looked at the pain relieving effects of omega-3 fatty acid supplements in people with RA or joint pain caused by inflammatory bowel disease (IBS) and painful menstruation (dysmenorrhea). The results suggest that omega-3 fatty acids, along with conventional therapies such as NSAIDs, may help relieve joint pain associated with these conditions.