Marine oil supplements for arthritis pain: A systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized trials

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Arthritis patients often take fish oil supplements to alleviate symptoms, but limited evidence exists regarding their efficacy. The objective was to evaluate whether marine oil supplements reduce pain and/or improve other clinical outcomes in patients with arthritis. Six databases were searched systematically (24 February 2015). We included randomized trials of oral supplements of all
marine oils compared with a control in arthritis patients. The internal validity was assessed using the Cochrane Risk of Bias tool and heterogeneity was explored using restricted maximum of likelihood (REML)-based meta-regression analysis. Grading of Recommendations Assessment, Development and Evaluation (GRADE) was used to rate the overall quality of the evidence. Forty-two trials were included; 30 trials reported complete data on pain. The standardized mean difference (SMD) suggested a favorable effect (-0.24; 95% confidence interval, CI, -0.42 to -0.07; heterogeneity, I2 = 63%. A significant effect was found in patients with rheumatoid arthritis (22 trials; -0.21; 95% CI, -0.42 to -0.004) and other or mixed diagnoses (3 trials; -0.63; 95% CI, -1.20 to -0.06), but not in osteoarthritis patients (5 trials; -0.17; 95% CI, -0.57–0.24). The evidence for using marine oil to
alleviate pain in arthritis patients was overall of low quality, but of moderate quality in rheumatoid arthritis patients.
Original languageEnglish
Article number42
Issue number1
Number of pages21
Publication statusPublished - 2017

    Research areas

  • Faculty of Science - Arthritis, Marine oil, Fish oil, Joint pain, Rheumatology, Complementary medicine, Meta-analysis, Randomized controlled trial

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