There are many supplements on the market that claim to support joint health and offer relief from joint pain. While there is no single supplement that can guarantee joint repair, some supplements have shown promising results in providing symptomatic relief from pain related to osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.
Glucosamine and chondroitin
Glucosamine and chondroitin are commonly used together in supplements. Both are part of the cartilage that lines the joints and prevents bones from rubbing against each other. There have been mixed results regarding their efficacy:
- The National Institutes of Health conducted a study on people with knee osteoarthritis (OA) and found that glucosamine improved symptoms such as pain and function, but the effect was similar to that of a placebo.
- Another 2016 international trial found that the combination of glucosamine and chondroitin reduced pain, stiffness, and swelling in knee OA, similar to the painkiller celecoxib.
- According to the Mayo Clinic, glucosamine sulfate, with or without chondroitin sulfate, may provide pain relief in knee OA.
Fish oil contains omega-3 fatty acids that are believed to have anti-inflammatory properties. According to a 2017 review article, omega-3 fatty acid supplements may help reduce joint swelling, stiffness, and pain in people with rheumatoid arthritis (RA). People with RA can expect to cut down on their frequency of taking painkillers by taking fish oil supplements.
SAM-e is a natural compound that exists in the body. Some studies report that it can be as effective as painkillers such as ibuprofen and celecoxib, minus their side effects. The SAM-e supplement may be more useful for people who have depression and OA together because it exerts mild anti-depressant effects.
Avocado-soybean unsaponifiables (ASU)
ASU is a combination of 1/3 avocado oil with 2/3 soybean oil. According to a meta-analysis, ASU may help improve symptoms of hip and knee OA and reduce the need for painkillers.
Other joint supplements
Limited research has been conducted on other supplements for joint repair, including:
- Ginger or Zingiber officinale
- Cat’s claw or Uncaria tomentosa
- Gamma linolenic acid
- Pine bark extract
Are there risks involved in using joint supplements?
Although most supplements are natural, they can cause side effects in some people, or there may be a risk of interaction with some medications. For example, fish oil supplements can interact with blood-thinning medication such as warfarin and enhance the medication’s blood-thinning effect.
Unlike medications, supplements are not regulated by the FDA. Since all ingredients may not be mentioned on the label, it’s important to purchase supplements from a reputable company. You can even ask your doctor for recommendations regarding supplement brands.
If you are planning to take supplements for arthritis, you can consult a physician practicing integrative medicine. However, always let your primary physician or orthopedic surgeon know. Never substitute your ongoing medical therapy with these supplements without their approval, as this can aggravate your symptoms.
Health Solutions From Our Sponsors
National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine. The NIH Glucosamine/Chondroitin Arthritis Intervention Trial (GAIT). J Pain Palliat Care Pharmacother. 2008;22(1):39-43. PMID: 19062354.
Cameron M, Chrubasik S. Oral herbal therapies for treating osteoarthritis. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2014 May 22;2014(5):CD002947.
Prince, M., and M. Bukhari. "AB0375 A systematic literature review of omega 3 in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis." (2018): 1357-1357.
Top What Is the Best Supplement for Joint Repair Related Articles
11 Home Remedies for Rheumatoid ArthritisRheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a long-term disorder that progressively affects many parts of the body. Home remedies, diet, and lifestyle changes can help reduce pain and discomfort associated with RA alongside medical treatment. Home remedies alone cannot effectively treat RA or prevent the progression of the disease.
Arthritis: 16 Bad Habits That Cause Joint PainBeing overweight, wearing uncomfortable shoes, or carrying a heavy purse can make joint pain and arthritis symptoms worse. Some bad habits increase inflammation and put you at risk of osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. Protect joints and muscles and prevent swelling and joint disorders by eliminating these joint problem bad habits.
Arthritis: Supplements for Joint PainCan supplements help relieve joint pain and swelling? Find out how certain compounds may aid your stiff, tender joints.
Does Glucosamine Chondroitin Really Work?Research is still underway to determine the efficacy of glucosamine and chondroitin, and while the evidence is conflicting, they do seem to provide some pain relief for knee osteoarthritis in some individuals.
glucosamine - oral
Osteoarthritis (OA)Osteoarthritis is a type of arthritis caused by inflammation, breakdown, and eventual loss of cartilage in the joints. Also known as degenerative arthritis, osteoarthritis can be caused by aging, heredity, and injury from trauma or disease.
OA of the Knee ExercisesLearn about osteoarthritis and exercises that relieve knee osteoarthritis pain, stiffness and strengthen the knee joint and surrounding muscles through this picture slideshow.
Osteoarthritis QuizHow does osteoarthritis differ from other types of arthritis? Learn about osteoarthritis with this quiz.
Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA)Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is an autoimmune disease resulting in chronic inflammation of the joints, the tissue around the joints, as well as other organs in the body. Early RA signs and symptoms include anemia, both sides of the body affected (symmetric), depression, fatigue, fever, joint deformity, joint pain, joint redness, joint stiffness, joint swelling, joint tenderness, joint warmth, limping, loss of joint function, loss of joint range of motion, and polyarthritis.
Rheumatoid Arthritis: Alternative RA TherapiesLearn which alternative treatments show promise for rheumatoid arthritis.
RA QuizHow is rheumatoid arthritis different from other forms of arthritis, such as osteoarthritis and gout? Take the Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) Quiz to rest your RA IQ.
What Are the Four Stages of Osteoarthritis?The four stages of osteoarthritis (OA) have been graded on the basis of X-ray findings. Higher grades indicate more severe signs of OA and the need for surgery. Grade 0 is the stage when the joint is healthy, Grade 1 is doubtful narrowing of the joint space with possible bone spurs, Grade 2 is the definite bone spurs with possible reduced joint space, Grade 3 is definite moderate joint space narrowing (at least 50%), and Grade 4 is the most severe stage.
What Foods Cause Joint Pain?With arthritis, the constant pain and stiffness often lead the body to be in a state of stress or "inflammation." Foods that cause joint pain include heavily processed foods, red meat, foods high in sugar, fried foods, alcohol and foods rich in MSG, refined carbohydrates, gluten and purines.
What Is the Best Treatment for Osteoarthritis?The best treatment for osteoarthritis (OA) varies from person to person. Most often, a combination of various therapies gives the best results. These therapies include physical measures, drug therapy, surgery, and supplements.