While it is quite common, osteoarthritis is a painful and debilitating disorder. Symptoms can range from an annoyance to the complete inability to use affected joints. Currently the only “cure” for osteoarthritis is to completely remove the affected joints and replace them with artificial ones. This in itself is painful and annoying and brings a whole new set of health problems into play.
The best way to deal with arthritis is to relieve the pain as long as you possibly can. Instead of turning to prescription painkillers and anti-inflammatories, glucosamine and chondroitin are great natural alternatives for reducing the pain of osteoarthritis.
So what exactly are glucosamine and chondroitin and why do they help with arthritis symptoms?
Osteoarthritis is caused by the breakdown of cartilage in the joints. Everyone’s cartilage is constantly breaking down and being rebuilt; however, in a person with arthritis, the breakdown occurs faster and the build-up occurs slower. The body just can’t keep up. This causes progressive joint damage.
The theory behind using glucosamine and chondroitin is to speed up the rebuilding process in the joint by providing an ample supply of the materials used to build cartilage.
Glucosamine is a substance used to build and repair cartilage while chondroitin makes cartilage more resilient to damage. A combination of these substances in the joint can help to build cartilage better and keep it from deteriorating as quickly.
Strangely, while taking oral supplements is suggested for relieving symptoms, there is no evidence that it increases the amount of these substances found in any one joint.
Studies have been done to study whether these substances actually help relieve arthritis pain. They showed that the relief level from these products was about equal to the relief obtained from using prescription anti-inflammatory drugs.
So why use these products instead of a prescription that will likely be covered by your insurance? First of all, the prescription medications come with a lot more side effects than glucosamine and chondroitin.
Another more serious problem with prescription anti-inflammatory drugs is that they have actually been shown to increase the rate of damage to affected joints. Because glucosamine and chondroitin are the materials used to build joints, they not only don’t cause further damage to the joint, they may actually slow the progression of arthritis.
Glucosamine and chondrointin are a great, natural way to deal with minor arthritis pain, but don’t rule them out if your problems are more severe.
Many doctors will suggest using supplements along with traditional treatment to increase the amount of pain relief and because it may slow joint deterioration. You should consult with your doctor for advice on your best course of treatment before trying either of these supplements.