Rehabilitation + ALA, carnitine, resveratrol, and vitamin D for sciatica Original paper

In this randomized controlled trial in participants with sciatica, the combination of rehabilitation and supplementation with alpha-lipoic acid, acetyl-L-carnitine, resveratrol, and vitamin D3 improved pain severity more than rehabilitation or supplementation alone.

This Study Summary was published on February 6, 2024.

Quick Summary

In this randomized controlled trial in participants with sciatica, the combination of rehabilitation and supplementation with alpha-lipoic acid, acetyl-L-carnitine, resveratrol, and vitamin D3 improved pain severity more than rehabilitation or supplementation alone.

What was studied?

The effects of rehabilitation and/or supplementation with alpha-lipoic acid (ALA), acetyl-L-carnitine (ALCAR), resveratrol, and vitamin D3 in the context of sciatica (pain down the sciatic nerve in the lower back, buttocks, hips, and legs).

The primary outcome was pain severity, assessed using a numerical rating scale. The secondary outcomes were the degree of disability, measured with the Oswestry Low Back Pain Disability Questionnaire, and quality of life, assessed using the 36-item Short Form Health Survey.

Who was studied?

128 adults (average age of 37; 60% women, 40% men) with moderate-to-severe sciatic pain caused by a herniated disc.

How was it studied?

A 30-day randomized controlled trial was conducted, in which the participants were divided into the following groups:

  • Rehabilitation only: The participants took part in 60 minutes of rehabilitation, 5 days per week, for a total of 20 sessions.
  • Supplementation only: The participants took 600 mg of ALA, 1,000 mg of ALCAR, 50 mg of resveratrol, and 800 IU of vitamin D3 daily.
  • Combination: The participants took part in both the rehabilitation program and the supplementation protocol.

All of the participants were asked to avoid taking nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) during the trial period but were allowed to take 500 mg of acetaminophen (paracetamol) + 30 mg of codeine as needed for excessive pain.

All of the outcomes were measured at baseline and assessed at the end of the trial period (day 30) and 60 days after the end of the trial (day 90).

What were the results?

The results were as follows:

  • Day 30 vs. baseline: Pain and degree of disability decreased in the combination and supplement groups, with the reduction greater in the combination group than in the other groups. There were no differences between the groups in quality of life.

  • Day 90 vs. baseline: Pain decreased in all of the groups, with the reduction greater in the combination group than in the other groups. The degree of disability also decreased in all of the groups, with no differences between the groups. Quality of life increased only in the combination group, with a greater increase in this group than the other groups.

No differences in the frequency of acetaminophen and codeine intake were observed between the groups.

Anything else I need to know?

Although the researchers specified pain severity as the primary outcome, the trial was retrospectively registered (i.e., it was registered after data had already been collected). This suggests the trial was exploratory in nature, which means the findings should be considered preliminary.

This Study Summary was published on February 6, 2024.