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Supplements for Joint Pain – Legit or Are They Just Snake Oil?

Glucosamine and chondroitin are popular joint supplements, often taken for pain related to osteoarthritis (OA).
By
Updated October 29, 2019

Can you recall the first time that you worked a retail job where you had to stand for eight hours or longer?

Do you remember the first time that you dig a full-body workout?

What about the first time that you have to do some manual labor?

If so, then there is a good chance that you remember the joint pain that came along with it. Maybe it is thirty years later, and your joints are suffering from all these repetitive movements over the years.

Well, there is nothing worse than dull pain combined with the impaired mobility that comes along with joint pain. What’s even more troubling is the fact that in order to eliminate that joint pain, you need to get those joints moving.

Of course, this is easier said than done when it hurts to move the joints. If joint pain is something that you are currently dealing with then there is a good chance that you have probably researched or heard about a number of supplements that claim they can aid your woes, but what’s the truth?

Are these supplements legit or are they just snake oil?

Glucosamine for Osteoarthritis

Glucosamine is a dietary supplement that is growing more and more popular. This is especially true with individuals that are suffering from osteoarthritis.

Osteoarthritis[1] is a common type of degenerative disease that usually occurs in the knees and hips. It is a condition that is usually caused by the insufficient regeneration of cartilage in joints.

Pretty much this means that when you move your knees and hips there is no cartilage in the middle, so you are basically rubbing bone against bone.

Unfortunately, there is no cure for this condition and over time it could potentially lead to excess joint pain, difficulties walking around, and disability.

That being said there are a few ways that you can potentially slow down the onset of this condition. And, one such way that many people have been attacking this problem is by taking glucosamine supplements.

nutritional-dietary-supplement

Is glucosamine actually good for joints? Shutterstock Images

Understanding Glucosamine and What It Brings To The Table

The main thing that you need to know about glucosamine is that it is a supplement, but it is also naturally produced by the body. It is a natural amino acid that can be produced by the body.

Of course, it probably goes without saying that the highest natural concentration of glucosamine is going to be located in the joints and cartilage.

In these areas, it makes up the structure of glycosaminoglycans. There are compounds that are pertinent for good joint health.

Glucosamine supplements are widely available and can be purchased without a prescription. In addition to this, they come available in a variety of forms.

They can be purchased as tablets, soft gels, or even drink mixes. However, there are usually two main types that you can choose from.

This would be the glucosamine sulfate and the glucosamine hydrochloride. As of right now, it is scientifically unclear how glucosamine affects arthritis, but most scientists believe that it helps protect the cartilage inside your joints.

There are also a number of studies that suggest such supplements can reduce the collagen breakdown. There is also talk that the supplement may also provide relief by reducing inflammation. It has, however, been scientifically proven that inflammation is one of the main causes of joint cartilage breakdown in osteoarthritis patients.

That being said there is a lot of debate surrounding the effectiveness of these supplements. Keep in mind that there are a number of medications that can mask the pain of joint pain, but they are only available from UK pharmacies such as UK Meds.

What The Research Says About Osteoarthritis

It should be noted that there are many studies that say that there is no evidence that glucosamine can aid in joint pain, while there are also other studies that show proof that glucosamine can help relieve joint pains and other symptoms over time.

It seems that most of the positive studies came from patients that used glucosamine sulfate salts.

One such study involved 318 adults that suffered from osteoarthritis[2]. The study had some of the patients take 1,500 milligrams of glucosamine salts daily for a period of half a year, while the other patients were issued a placebo.

The results showed that the patients that took the salts showed sign of reduced pain as well as improved function. The benefits of these supplements proved to be somewhat similar to taking 3 grams of acetaminophen daily.

This is not the only study showing positive results. Another study involving 200 patients, showed that taking 1,500 milligrams of glucosamine sulfate daily for a period of three years actually improved the overall symptoms[3]. Such symptoms like pain, stiffness, and immobility.

It has been suggested by many that the results of these tests were somewhat influenced since a glucosamine manufacturer was the one that performed the tests.

What The Research Says About Rheumatoid Arthritis

Rheumatoid arthritis is nothing like osteoarthritis, but they both do affect the joints. Rheumatoid arthritis is much less common, but it is an autoimmune disease that causes the immune system to attack the joints.

This is not a condition that is caused by everyday repetitive movements. However, is it still a condition that can reap havoc on your joints.

There are some studies that show glucosamine supplements might also be a good reprieve for this condition. One such study involved 51 adults that suffered from rheumatoid arthritis[4]. Some of the patients were given 1,500 milligrams of glucosamine hydrochloride and some were given a placebo.

The results show that the patients that took the 1,500 milligrams for three months saw an improvement in symptoms. However, the scientific and medical community still states that there need to be more studies conducted before any solid conclusions should be drawn.

The Side Effects Of Glucosamine Supplements

Glucosamine is usually taken three times a day with meals and the doses can range anywhere from 300 to 500 milligrams per meal, which adds up to either 900 or 1,500 milligrams. Salts or glucosamine sulfates only need to be taken once a day.

However, it should be noted that these supplements are considered safe and there have not been any reported side effects associated with the use of these supplements.

Author

Contributor : Melissa Feldman (Joint Health Magazine)

Melissa Feldman writes about a range of lifestyle topics, including health, fitness, nutrition, and the intersection of them all. She has undergraduate degrees in both teaching and psychology. She spent almost 20 years writing and designing English as a Second Language educational materials, including several textbooks. She has presented the cumulative research of many health topics ranging from dietary supplements to joint pain relief products and topical pain reliever. She is skilled at writing compelling articles and producing academic, marketing and creative content. Melissa currently lives in Toronto, Canada and works as an independent research writer. She has more than a decade of experience reviewing and editing publications intended for both public and professional audiences. You can connect with her on Linkedin.

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