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Can the B Vitamins Help Improve the Pain Associated with Osteoarthritis?

The B Vitamins have many beneficial effects. Vitamin B1, or thiamine, is important for our cells to work efficiently. Vitamin B6 is vital for healthy nerve function and Vitamin B12, or cyanocobalamin, has numerous functions including keeping our brain, nerves, and blood cells healthy. These three B vitamins, when taken together may have another important benefit: pain relief. Specifically, these three B vitamins may help decrease the pain associated with osteoarthritis (OA). Moreover, they may augment the anti-pain and anti-inflammatory effect of other medications and supplements you may  already be taking.

A study was undertaken to examine the pain-relieving effects of a commonly prescribed anti-inflammatory medication Diclofenac alone compared to Diclofenac plus the B vitamins together. The doses of the B vitamins were 100 mg of Vitamin B1, 100 mg Vitamin B6 and 5 mg of Vitamin B 12. Fifty patients were randomized to either receive an injection of Diclofenac alone or this medication plus the B vitamins.  In follow-up, the study investigators found that the group that had received both the Diclofenac and B vitamins reported improved pain relief when compared to the group that did not.

Other studies have demonstrated that pain-relieving effects of an anti-inflammatory medication or supplements are improved when combined with B vitamins. In an experimental model of OA, researchers demonstrated that when combining Vitamin B1 with Glucosamine and Chondroitin, they found that the Vitamin B1 enhanced the joint-protective effects of the Glucosamine and Chondroitin.

What does the above information suggest? If you have OA, especially severe OA, the combination of B vitamins, especially Vitamin B1, B6 and B12, can enhance the pain-relieving effects of anti-inflammatory medications that you may be taking. Remember that there are a significant number of natural supplements that have potent anti-inflammatory effects, including Turmeric, Glucosamine, Chondroitin, Methylsulfonylmethane (MSM), and Avocado Extract. Many of them can provide natural anti-inflammatory relief as well as anti-oxidant support without having to deal with the many side effects of a prescription medication.

By Rich Snyder, DO


  • Koboyashi T, Notoya K et al. “Fursultiamine, a vitamin B1 derivative, enhances chondroprotective effects of glucosamine hydrochloride and chondroitin sulfate in rabbit experimental osteoarthritis.” Inflammation Research. 2005 Jun;54(6):249-55.
  • Magana-Villa MC, Rocha-Gonzalez HI et al. “B-vitamin Mixture Improves the Analgesic Effect of Diclofenac in Patients with Osteoarthritis: A Double Blind Study.” Drug Research.  2013 Jun;63(6):289-92
  • Mibielli MA, Geller M et al. “Diclofenac plus B vitamins versus diclofenac monotherapy in lumbago: the DOLOR study.” Current Medical Research and Opinion. 2009 Nov;25(11):2589-99.

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