Facebook Pixel

Do Supplements Help With Back Pain?

The number of dietary, vitamin and herbal supplements available seems to be constantly growing. Can any of these supplements help with back pain? Possibly. But there are also risks associated with taking supplements. Let’s talk about those first.

do supplements help with back pain

Supplement Risks

Natural Doesn’t Always Mean Safe

Just because a supplement comes from a plant doesn’t mean the product you’re ingesting is safe. The components of the supplement can change based on growing conditions. In addition, additives or contaminants can be introduced during the production process.

Drug Interactions

Prescription drugs, over the counter vitamins and supplements can all interact with each other. At times, these interactions can be problematic. Always talk to your doctor about the medications, vitamins and supplements you’re taking. It’s a good idea to gather everything you’re taking and bring it with you to your doctor’s appointment. This helps the doctor see the kind and dosages of medications you’re taking.

Supplements and Regulation

Supplements may be regulated by the FDA, but as food, not as drugs.5 According to the FDA:

“Unlike new drugs, dietary supplements are not reviewed and approved by FDA based on their safety and effectiveness”6

In addition, many require more research to fully understand their impact on the human body.

Caution should be used about which supplements you take and at what dosage. It’s always best to consult your doctor before adding a supplement to your diet. 

Supplements for Back Pain

Keeping the risks in mind, let’s talk about a few common supplements as they relate to chronic back pain.


Omega-3 fatty acids are believed to have anti-inflammatory effects on the body, similar to that of NSAIDs. In some studies, participants who took supplements high in omega-3 (such as fish oil) reported reduced back pain.2


Glucosamine is a popular supplement and you may find articles which discuss its ability to reduce pain. However, studies have not been able to show any change in back pain as a result of taking glucosamine.3

Vitamin D

Some studies have shown a relationship between vitamin D deficiency and chronic pain. Specifically, many studies found that individuals with vitamin D deficiencies may be more prone to chronic lower back pain. Research is mixed on whether taking a vitamin D supplement can help reduce lower back pain. However, if you do suffer from chronic lower back pain, it may make sense to have your vitamin D levels tested.4 If tests show your levels are low, a vitamin D supplement may help.


Like any medical treatment, what works for your friend may not work for you. Your condition may be different, your body is different and how you respond to treatment may be different. Supplements may be able to help your with your chronic back pain but you should use them cautiously.



  1. https://www.spine.org/KnowYourBack/Treatments/Alternative-Medicine/Herbal-Supplements
  2. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0090301905007743
  3. https://bmjopen.bmj.com/content/3/6/e001167
  4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30201225
  5. https://www.fda.gov/consumers/consumer-updates/dietary-supplements
  6. https://www.fda.gov/consumers/consumer-updates/it-really-fda-approved
*Please Note: Information on this site or any recommended sites should not be used as a diagnosis or a substitute for talking with your doctor. Always talk with your doctor about diagnosis and treatment information.
Blue Distinction Center for Spine Surgery