Many people are now turning to nutritional supplements for pain management, as they become less tolerant towards the side effects of pain medications. Physicians also seem to be attracted by the idea of using supplements and recommend one or the other to their patients. Supplements may be vitamins, minerals, amino acids, hormones, herbs or others. Although a number of herbs and supplements are doing the rounds in pain management, there is no concrete clinical evidence to show that they are effective in providing relief from pain.
Inflammation is one of the most common causes for diseases associated with chronic pain like arthritis and back pain. Traditional medications block the chemicals that trigger inflammation and pain in the body providing relief. A number of plants and herbs like turmeric, green tea, willow bark, ginger and rosemary are known to provide similar effects. Studies have shown that turmeric is useful in controlling the symptoms in arthritis. Experts are of the opinion that taking turmeric capsules will eventually help in avoiding pain medications altogether in such conditions.
Fish oil is yet another popular supplement and is considered to be useful in a number of conditions including heart problems, depression and respiratory troubles. It is also useful in controlling the symptoms of inflammatory diseases. Combining fish oil with other types of supplements like ginger or turmeric improves its effect. But one should discuss with the doctor before combining supplements.
Vitamin D supplements are often recommended for pain relief in people with fibromyalgia. Low levels of vitamin D are associated with chronic pain in many cases and this forms the basis of vitamin D supplementation in managing pain.
Topical application of capsaicin is used in arthritis, psoriasis, shingles, and diabetic neuropathy for relieving pain. But it is often seen that the pain increases after application before it reduces to provide relief. Glucosamine supplements are used to relieve joint pain, particularly in osteoarthritic knee pain. The effect of glucosamine increases when used in combination with chondroitin. Some studies indicate that glucosamine reduces the progression of arthritis. Magnesium supplements are found to be useful in alleviating pain migraines, muscle spasms and fibromyalgia.
Acetyl-L-carnitine supplements are used to provide pain relief in diabetic neuropathy. Alpha-lipoic acid, bromelain, riboflavin and methylsulphonylmethane are also considered as ideal candidates for pain relief in different health conditions.