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5 Supplements And Vitamins: Over 32.5 million persons in the United States suffer from osteoarthritis, the most common form of arthritis that causes joint pain. Traditional therapies include physical activity, weight reduction, prescription drugs, and aids like crutches or canes. However, a lot of individuals are also drawn to supplements.
This article examines some dietary supplements often promoted as offering joint pain treatment to help you find potential choices for practical pain management.
What Is Joint Pain (Osteoarthritis)?
Osteoarthritis is a chronic, progressive disease brought on by the body’s natural aging process. According to Emily Scott, D.O., C.A.Q.S.M., of Direct Care Physicians of Pittsburgh and a member of the Allegheny County Medical Society, the significant impacts of osteoarthritis are joint space constriction, cartilage deterioration, and bone degeneration.
According to Leah Johansen, M.D., a family medicine doctor who specializes in functional medicine at Life Force, an online health optimization platform, osteoarthritis symptoms include deep, achy pain in specific areas of the body (especially with movement), morning stiffness, crepitus (a crackling sound in the joints), and restricted range of motion.
Top 5 Joint Pain Supplements
The benefits of the following supplements on osteoarthritis patients have been researched. However, it’s crucial to remember that although certain supplements could aid with symptom relief, they shouldn’t be used in place of medically approved medicine. Before incorporating a new supplement into your regimen, seeing your doctor is crucial.
Ginger’s cousin, turmeric, is often utilized in traditional Chinese and Indian medicine. It imparts a golden color to meals like curries when used as a spice. Turmeric, also known as Curcuma longa, includes curcumin. This anti-inflammatory substance may aid in reducing inflammation brought on by arthritis, according to Dr. Scott, who cites a systematic review and meta-analysis published in the journal Frontiers In Immunology in 2022.
The review investigates the administration of curcumin and Curcuma longa extract to more than 2,000 individuals with osteoarthritis and other kinds of arthritis. Both curcumin and Curcuma longa extract can lessen inflammation and improve the signs and symptoms of arthritis. Curcumin and Curcuma longa extracts for osteoarthritis demonstrated similar benefits to nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medicines (NSAIDs) in lowering joint pain and stiffness and enhancing function. Curcumin’s effects were also more pronounced with NSAIDs than when used alone. Researchers point out that further study is necessary before making any judgments.
Omega-3 fatty acids, crucial elements that fight inflammation, may be found in fish oil. Dr. Scott claims that a few studies have consistently shown the advantages of fish oil for joint and cartilage health. The Arthritis Foundation concurs with this but adds that the findings of the studies are conflicting.
A 2016 randomized control experiment shows low and high fish oil doses may help knee osteoarthritis symptoms. Interestingly, after two years, the function and pain ratings of the group receiving low-dose fish oil in the research improved more than those of the high-dose fish oil group.
Another randomized controlled study conducted in 2020 found that taking fish oil supplements substantially decreased osteoarthritic pain in those who were overweight or obese compared to not taking supplements.
Even though these trials show promise, additional study is required to identify the best therapy strategies using fish oil supplements.
Chondroitin and Glucosamine
The cartilage cushions your joints is made up of chondroitin and glucosamine. While glucosamine supplements are often manufactured from shellfish or plants, chondroitin supplements are typically made from animal cartilage. The process of joint degeneration and cartilage loss may be slowed down by chondroitin and glucosamine, according to some research, says Dr Johansen. You may take chondroitin and glucosamine alone or together.
According to a 2018 meta-analysis, chondroitin was more effective than a placebo in reducing pain and improving participants’ physical function if they had osteoarthritis. Furthermore, glucosamine significantly reduced stiffness when compared to placebo.
Another meta-analysis of supplements for osteoarthritis conducted in 2018 found that chondroitin and glucosamine alone were either ineffective or had little benefits.
Recent studies on chondroitin and glucosamine for osteoarthritis emphasize the supplements’ combination more than each alone. Combining chondroitin and glucosamine is more beneficial than taking them alone for treating knee osteoarthritis, according to a systematic review and meta-analysis published in 2022.
Collagen is present in tendons, cartilage, muscles, and skin. It keeps these tissues resilient to strain and keeps them robust. Most commercially available collagen products come from animal sources such as skins, tendons, bones, and hides. Numerous collagen-based products have been investigated for their effects on joint health, with type II collagen and hydrolyzed collagen receiving the most attention in cases of osteoarthritis.
Dr Johansen makes this point, citing a 2019 meta-analysis published in International Orthopaedics that demonstrates Collagen helps ease the symptoms of osteoarthritis. The doctor adds that Collagen may strengthen tendons and ligaments and lessen activity-related bone pain.
The majority of collagen constituents that have been researched seem to be helpful. Still, there is a lot of variance in how they have been evaluated, how much to take, and the treatment length, according to a 2023 Nutrients assessment of collagen supplementation for joint health.
Potential Risks Associated with Taking Supplements for Joint Pain
According to Dr Johansen, one potential problem with utilizing supplements is that they cannot treat the underlying causes of joint pain, such as musculoskeletal alignment or nutritional factors.
Additionally, supplements may interact with certain drugs and provide dangers for those with some medical issues. Avoiding fish oil and turmeric/curcumin is suggested if you use blood-thinning drugs. Additionally, those getting ready for surgery or having gallbladder problems must avoid turmeric/curcumin.
It’s also crucial to remember that taking chondroitin combined with blood thinners may make bleeding more likely. Furthermore, those with glaucoma should use glucosamine with care since it may exacerbate ocular pressure.
Dr. Scott says you should always talk to your doctor before beginning a supplement regimen, particularly if you have a medical issue.
Dr. Scott adds that the Food and Drug Administration (F.D.A.) does not regulate supplements like drugs, and manufacturers may have different standards. She advises doing research and choosing well-known or medical professional-recommended products.
When to Consult a Physician for Joint Pain
Dr Johansen advises anyone with joint discomfort to see a doctor right away. Dr. Scott concurs, highlighting that only a medical professional can perform an in-depth examination, identify the underlying cause of joint discomfort, and provide the necessary care to stop future harm.