Dietary Supplements for Back Pain

First—talk with your health care provider before taking and/or combining supplements or herbs with prescription or OTC medications.

Written by Amy Hess-Fischl, MS, RD, LDN, BC-ADM, CDE

For some people whose chronic back or neck pain is not adequately controlled with pain relievers, dietary supplements may seem like an attractive option. Many dietary supplements and herbs are advertised as treatments for pain and inflammation. While some people may find herbs and supplements helpful in relieving or reducing their pain, it is important to know these are not magic pills that can cure pain or the depression that can accompany chronic or painful spine-related conditions.
Nutrition and Dietary Supplements
Eating a healthy diet with plenty of fruits, vegetables and whole grains helps keep your body in good shape. Foods high in antioxidants, such as green, leafy vegetables and berries, may be helpful in fighting inflammation.

Supplements and herbs that some people have found helpful to reduce inflammation and pain, include those listed below. However, it’s prudent to point out that several of these supplements can increase the risk for bleeding. Therefore, it bears repeating that having a discussion with your health care provider is vital before you consume any type of supplement.


Omega-3 fatty acids


Methylsulfonylmethane (MSM)



Herbs may come in the form of pills, capsules or tablets; teas; or tinctures/liquid extracts.


Devil's claw

Willow bark

Capsaicin cream

Things to Remember About Supplements

Certain supplements and herbs may interact with prescription and/or over-the-counter medicines you already take. Such drug interactions may cause adverse and even potentially life-threatening effects.

It is especially important for you to check with your health care provider before taking supplements if you are pregnant, nursing a baby or have a chronic medical condition (such as diabetes, hypertension or heart disease).

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