Joint pain is one of the most common problems among people over 50. This is good to know, but this knowledge doesn’t alleviate the pain and swelling in your joints. Taking NSAIDs like Ibuprofen can help, but you’re worried about the long- use effects, such as gastrointestinal bleeding. These concerns have led many joint pain sufferers to consider natural remedies as a complement or replacement for their current treatment. Some natural remedies and supplements have shown some promising results, and Chondroitin is one of them.
What is Chondroitin?
Chondroitin (also known as Chondroitin Sulfate) is a chemical compound produced naturally by your joints. Chondroitin helps nourish the cartilage between your joints and acts as a natural shock absorber. It cushions the ends of your bones to prevent them from rubbing together as you move about. Over time, and through normal wear and tear, your cartilage can begin to thin out. When you’re young, your body produces enough natural chondroitin to repair the damage, but as you age your body produces less, causing your cartilage to thin out faster than your body can replace it.
You can find Chondroitin in health food stores and frequently at your local drug store. Chondroitin is usually taken in tablet form at doses of 400 – 600mg, two to three times a day. It can also be taken as a capsule, powder, or liquid, and is often taken in combination with other dietary supplements, such as Glucosamine and/or Manganese.
How Effective Is Chondroitin?
It is still early days in the study of Chondroitin and so far the results have been mixed. Studies have not conclusively proved that Chondroitin helps the body to repair or produce more cartilage, or that it stops further loss of cartilage. Some studies have shown it to be an effective treatment for osteoarthritis, especially osteoarthritis of the hip or knee. Researchers at the University of Geneva School of Medicine recently concluded a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study (the gold standard in research studies) that showed very positive results for patients with joint pain in the hands. Their study found that patients who were given Chondroitin reported significant reduction in hand joint pain and reduced joint stiffness than those given the placebo.
Are There Any Risks or Side Effects?
Chondroitin is generally safe and has a low risk of side effects. Studies and doctor/patient experience show some risks for people with asthma, diabetes and people taking blood thinners or NSAIDs.
Most studies show that you need to take Chondroitin for at least two to four months before you experience the benefits. Chondroitin may be beneficial, but it is not a quick fix for your chronic joint pain. Fortunately, you can take NSAIDs with Chondroitin while you wait for the effects to kick in, but talk with your doctor first. While we wait for more conclusive results, you may be one of the people who find significant relief from this dietary supplement.
Gabay C; Medinger-Sadowski C; Gascon D, Kolo F; Finckh A. Arthritis & Rheumatology. November 2011; Volume 63, Issue 11, Pages 3383-3391.