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Fish Oil and Rheumatoid Arthritis

Research indicates that fish oil may help reduce some symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis (RA), such as morning stiffness, joint pain, and joint tenderness. Fish oil may also help people with RA reduce their use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). If you are considering using fish oil for rheumatoid arthritis, make sure to first talk to your healthcare provider about the benefits and potential risks that may apply to you.

An Overview of Fish Oil for Rheumatoid Arthritis

Fish oil may be useful for people who have rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Unlike many other rheumatoid arthritis treatments, fish oil is relatively inexpensive, "natural," and unlikely to cause severe side effects in most people.

What Does the Research Say?

There is growing evidence to suggest that fish oil could play an important role in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Studies suggest that fish oil (or other forms of omega-3 fatty acids) may help reduce some rheumatoid arthritis symptoms, such as morning stiffness and joint pain or tenderness. Studies also indicate that people who take fish oil may be able to reduce their use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). However, studies generally did not show that fish oil was effective for reducing the Ritchie articular index (a measure of RA severity that takes into account both joint tenderness and joint swelling).

Adding Fish Oil to Rheumatoid Arthritis Treatment

Research suggests that fish oil may work for RA, either used alone or in combination with other RA treatment (especially in combination with NSAIDs). However, it is a good idea to consult with your healthcare provider before starting a regimen of fish oil. Theoretically, fish oil can interact with a number of medications, including NSAIDs (see Fish Oil Drug Interactions for more information), and there are some situations in which taking fish oil may be unsafe (see Is Fish Oil Harmful?).
Not only can your healthcare provider help you decide if fish oil is a good option for you, but he or she can also help you choose an appropriate fish oil dosage and can help monitor your progress.
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