Using supplements for back pain is a controversial topic. Some experts recommend the use of supplements for back pain to reduce inflammation, improve sleep and encourage healing, while others feel that supplements are a waste of time for this problem.
Personally, I feel that there is some value to the use of supplements for back pain. This is partly because the implementation of a “whole-body approach” is absolutely necessary in order to return the body to its healthy state after a bout of back pain, or indeed sciatica.
In several of my previous articles, I have spoken about the importance of reducing inflammation throughout the body when dealing with sciatica. The same rules apply for back pain, too. If the body is unhealthy and inflamed, there is no chance of the offending area settling down to allow sufficient pain relief. Several of the supplements for back pain that I recommend in this article have been shown to reduce inflammatory markers throughout the body and may help in relieving your irritated nerve root of its surrounding inflammation.
I have also previously spoken about the importance of sleep in recovery from sciatica and back pain. The fact is, someone who is sleep deprived has very little chance of regaining their full health. Some of the supplements in this report have been used effectively as sleep aids by many people; if they can improve the duration and quality of sleep, they will certainly aid recovery.
You will also find some supplements on here that may be able to aid in pain relief. These are supplements that have been reported to have pain relieving benefits through a variety of mechanisms, of which I will go into more detail later on.
Of course, the main caveat to all of the information in this article is the fact that these supplements alone are very unlikely to give you significant relief, unless you also make healthy changes to your diet, your lifestyle and start an appropriate exercise programme too!
With that being said, let’s look at some of the best supplements for back pain as part of our brand new 2021 guide…
Before we dive in, please be aware that we are part of the Amazon Affiliate programme. This page may contain Amazon affiliate links, so if you choose to purchase a product for your sciatica that we recommend through a link on this page, we will receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. This helps us keep Overcome Sciatica alive! Thank you for your support. Please be assured that we only ever recommend products that we truly believe can help.
Important notice: The supplements recommended here should in no way be used as a substitute for medication. You should always consult your doctor before starting with a new supplement to check that it won’t have harmful interactions with your current medication or medical condition. You should also check for allergy information specific to you for each of these supplements and avoid them if in any doubt. This report only states the potential benefits of these products as claimed by the manufacturer and the people that use them and I cannot guarantee any specific results for those who start using them. I also cannot be held accountable for any problems that should arise from the use of these supplements for back pain.
Supplements for Back Pain (in no particular order)
#1 – Turmeric with Black Pepper
Best for: Reducing inflammation
Turmeric is a popular Indian spice, and is the yellow colouring used in curries. The reason turmeric is touted as an anti-inflammatory supplement is that it contains a substance called “curcumin”, which is its active ingredient.
Curcumin acts as a strong anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant within the body (Jurenka, 2009). It is such a powerful anti-inflammatory that this researcher reported its effects to be as strong as those of prescription medication.
Turmeric is quite popular as a supplement for arthritis and is reported by many to have a noticeable effect on pain relief even when used for a short period. Compared to other supplements and medications, turmeric has been described as less expensive and much safer to use (Aggarwal et al., 2009).
The reason it is supplied as a supplement rather than simple a dietary addition is that turmeric itself only contains about 3% curcumin (Tayem et al., 2006); so you would have to consume a huge amount of turmeric to get the same benefits as a simple tablet supplement for back pain.
The reason this supplement combines curcumin with black pepper is the fact that a substance in black pepper increases the absorption of curcumin within the body by about 2000% (Shoba et al., 1998)!
From my experience, Nutravita have always been an excellent brand and these are the turmeric capsules I now recommend to my clients. At £15.99, the price is very reasonable and this pot contains a 3 month supply.
#2 – Omega-3
Best for: Those who don’t want to take anti-inflammatories
Omega-3 is an essential fatty acid found in fish oil. The best types of fish to include in your diet in order to take in more Omega-3 are the oily kind – like salmon, mackerel and trout.
In the typical diet of most Westerners, there isn’t enough oily fish to see a significant benefit from Omega-3. That is why Omega-3 supplements are some of the most popular on the market today.
Omega-3 has been shown to have a whole slew of benefits, including better heart health, reduced inflammatory response and a purported benefit to the joints (Maroon & Bost, 2006).
Maroon & Bost conducted a study which asked participants with lower back pain and sciatica to try Omega-3 supplements as a substitute for NSAID’s (like Ibuprofen or Naproxen). At the end of their study, 59% discontinued to take their prescription NSAID medications for pain. 60% stated that their overall pain and joint pain had improved. Eighty percent stated that they were satisfied with their improvement, and 88% stated they would continue to take the fish oil. There were no significant side effects reported.
At such a low price for such profound benefits, it’s no surprise that Omega-3 supplements are so popular. These ones from Nutravita again represent superb value for money and are higher quality than the general supermarket-own brand. These supplements for back pain are specially filtered to ensure there are no impurities, unlike in some cheaper brands.
I personally use these Omega-3 tablets and have never had any problems with a fishy aftertaste.
#3 – Vitamin B-12
Best for: Nerve health and function
As sciatica (which often goes hand in hand with back pain) arises from an irritation of the sciatic nerve, it makes sense for us to do everything we can to optimise nerve health.
Vitamin B12 plays a vital role in keeping our nerves healthy. It does this by improving the production of “myelin”, the insulator that covers the nerves in our body. Myelin acts like the covering of electrical wires and helps increase the speed of impulses along your nerve cells.
Vitamin B12 also promotes the regeneration and growth of nerve cells. Sciatica, which causes nerve pain, numbness or tingling, can actually be caused and made worse by deficiencies of vitamin B12 in the body.
Vitamin B12 is found primarily in meat, poultry, fish and eggs; however, taking a supplement can be a great way to guarantee that you are taking in enough of this important vitamin each and every day.
By taking Vitamin B12 supplements, such as the one I have provided as a great example here, you may also get benefits like an improved immune system and a reduction in fatigue.
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#4 – Cosmic Calm Sleep Aid
Best for: A restful night’s sleep
It is no secret that back pain can significantly hamper a restful night’s sleep. The worst part about this fact is that sleep is absolutely essential for proper healing to occur (Adam, 1984).
Without normal sleep, inflammation and irritation will remain for a substantially longer period of time than if we were able to guarantee a consistent and deep sleep.
This sleep supplement for back pain contains the following ingredients with some significant benefits:
- 5-HTP – Proven to deepen sleep and an immediate precursor to Serotonin.
- L-Theanine – Proven to reduce stress.
- Lemon Balm – Proven to improve mood and/ or cognitive performance
- L-Tryptophan – Proven benefits for getting off to sleep.
- Magnesium – Contributes to normal psychological function and is shown to reduce cortisol ‘the stress hormone’.
- Vitamin B6 – Contributes to the regulation of hormonal activity.
The reviews online are also very encouraging for this product. Usually, when we can normalise someone’s sleep pattern, that’s when we start to see symptomatic improvements following on from this.
You can read all about my other tips to improve your sleep when you have sciatica in this article here.
#5 – Garlic & Ginger
Best for: Totally natural pain relief
This is a superb supplement for back pain for anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant purposes. I stated in this article here about how ginger and garlic can contribute to a back pain-friendly diet. After searching around, I have found a supplement that combines both of these powerful spices for the ultimate convenience anti-inflammatory hit!
Ginger is beneficial against nausea but it also is one of the most powerful anti-inflammatories, modulating multiple pathways to reduce pain and inflammation, thus reducing the need for potentially harmful anti-inflammatory chemical painkillers (Abascal et al., 2006).
Garlic has also been shown to reduce inflammation, but also encourage wound healing (Ejaz et al., 2009). The study which showed this was performed with post-surgical patients; so if you are recovering from surgery, this supplement has great potential to help you bounce back quicker, too.
So, those are my top recommended supplements for back pain. You’ll find anti-inflammatory, improved healing and better sleep as just some of the benefits of a trial of these supplements.
You may also notice an improvement in overall health, as most of these supplements have been shown to have more than just one benefit when taken consistently.
As always when starting a new supplement or medication, make sure you consult your doctor or other healthcare professional before commencing any new supplement for back pain.
Thanks as always for reading, and I hope some of the information in this article has been useful to you!
Abascal K, Yarnell E. (2006). Herbs for Curbing Inflammation. Altern Complement Ther. 22– 29. Adam, K., Oswald, I. (1984). Sleep helps healing. British Medical Journal. 289(6456). 1400- 1401.
Aggarwal, B.B., Harikumar, K.B. (2009). Potential therapeutic effects of curcumin, the antiinflammatory agent, against neurodegenerative, cardiovascular, pulmonary, metabolic, autoimmune and neoplastic diseases. The International Journal of Biochemistry and Cell Biology. 41(1). 40-59.
Ejaz, S., Chekarova, I., Cho, J.W., Lee, S.Y., Ashraf, S., Lim, C.W. (2009). Effect of aged garlic extract on wound healing: a new frontier in wound management. Drug Chem Toxicol. 32(3):191–203.
Jurenka, J.S. (2009) Anti-inflammatory properties of curcumin, a major constituent of Curcuma longa: a review of preclinical and clinical research. Altern Med Rev. 14(2). 141- 153.
Maroon, J.C., Bost, J.W. (2006). Omega-3 fatty acids (fish oil) as an anti-inflammatory: an alternative to nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs for discogenic pain. Surg Neurol. 65(4). 326-331.
Shoba, G., Joy, D., Joseph, T., Majeed, M., Rajendran, R., Srinivas, P.S. (1998) Influence of piperine on the pharmacokinetics of curcumin in animals and human volunteers. Planta Med. 64(4). 353-356.
Tayem, R.F., Heath, D.D., Al-Delaimy, W.K., Rock, C.L. (2006) Curcumin content of turmeric and curry powders. Nutr Cancer. 55(2). 126-131.