Joint pain can present itself as pain, discomfort, or inflammation in any part of a joint. In some cases, joint pain that gets progressively worse is usually a sign of osteoarthritis – this most common form arthritis, which affects nearly one-quarter of the U.S. population. Many are starting to turn to supplements for osteoarthritis to help relieve their joint pain when OTC pain relievers aren’t cutting it. Below are nine science-backed supplements to help ease joint pain.
Glucosamine is a naturally occurring substance found in cartilage that performs an important role in its joint health and elasticity. Many supplements aimed at treating joint pain prompted by osteoarthritis contain glucosamine.
Researchers have found that a daily dose of glucosamine sulfate–a specific type of glucosamine found in supplements–can help improve symptoms of osteoarthritis.
When taken over an extended period of time, glucosamine sulfate may also help to decrease the progression of osteoarthritis. Studies suggest that it decreases the narrowing of the joint space, a sign of the condition getting worse when taken for a period of three years.
According to research, the recommended daily dose is 1,500 milligrams (mg) of glucosamine sulfate taken orally once per day. If this upsets your stomach, try to spread it over three 500 mg doses each.
Chondroitin is a vital part of natural cartilage, and studies have found that taking chondroitin can prevent cartilage from breaking down from osteoarthritis and can also increase its repair mechanisms.
Numerous clinical studies have found that chondroitin, when taken by individuals with osteoarthritis, can reduce joint pain and stiffness. Approximately 53% of people taking chondroitin have noticed a significant improvement of 20% reduction in knee pain or more.
When taken over a prolonged period, chondroitin sulfate can also delay the progression of osteoarthritis. Studies show that when taken for up to 2 years, it can slow down the narrowing of the joint space.
Joint supplements often combine glucosamine with chondroitin, but it’s still unclear whether it’s better to take a combination supplement than choosing one or the other on its own.
Chondroitin is usually taken two to three times per day at a dosage of 400 to 800 mg.
Turmeric is perhaps one of the most popular supplements for pain treatment, including joint pain induced by osteoarthritis. Its pain-relieving effects are primarily due to a chemical compound called curcumin, which has incredible anti-inflammatory properties.
The yellow powder, ground from a root, has been traditionally used for over 4,500 years in South Asian Ayurvedic medicine as an antioxidant, decongestant, calming skin salve and digestive aid.
Although further research on turmeric for joint pain needs to be conducted, an analysis of studies found that curcumin may alleviate symptoms of joint pain in arthritic patients.
The study recommends taking 1,000 mg of curcumin each day to treat the symptoms of arthritis, which can be taken two to four times a day in smaller doses.
S-adenosyl-L-methionine (SAMe) is an alternative treatment widely used to assist with osteoarthritis symptoms. Your liver develops SAMe naturally from an amino acid called methionine. It has several functions, including helping with cartilage production and repair.
SAMe, when taken as a supplement, can help with symptoms of joint pain caused by osteoarthritis. It may be as effective as celebrcoxib (Celebrex), the anti-inflammatory drug.
SAMe is usually taken three times a day at doses of 200 to 400 mg. Results are not immediate and will take prolonged use to see significant change.
5. Devil’s claw
The claw of the devil, also known as harpagophytum, contains a chemical called harpogoside, which has incredible anti-inflammatory effects that can help with osteoarthritis joint pain.
In one study, both the devil’s claw and an anti-inflammatory drug called diacerein were put to the test, and the results delivered remained promising. However, since there is not much research on this osteoarthritis supplement, more high-quality studies are needed.
The recommended supplementation dose is three times a day; furthermore, most studies involving the devil’s claw used doses of 600 to 800 mg.
The MSM (methylsulfonylmethane) is a popular supplement among individuals suffering from chronic pain. Its main benefit is as an anti-inflammatory that grants some relief to people with arthritis and other kinds of inflammatory, joint, or muscle pain.
According to a study published in 2017, MSM not only decreases inflammation, but it also protects cartilage from degeneration, such as that observed in osteoarthritis.
The Arthritis Foundation advises starting with a low dosage of 500 mg twice a day and building that up gradually to 1,000 mg twice a day.
Fish oil, which contains docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), and omega-3 fatty acids, has long been lauded for its anti-inflammatory effects and heart health benefits.
7. Fish oil
Omega-3 fatty acids, found in fish oil and other foods, support your body with the production of chemicals that help control inflammation. This supplement can help ease stiffness in individuals with rheumatoid arthritis.
Positive results have been found in a multitude of studies which focused on researching fish oil supplementation for various disease outcomes, including joint pain and stiffness, have been noted in patients with RA. Fish oil can take up to 3 months to show a notable effect.
Typical doses of fish oil range from 300 to 1,000 mg daily via oral capsules. For vegans, there are also many plant-based sources for DHA, EPA and Omega-3s, such as algal oil.
Boswellia, also known as frankincense, is the dried sap of trees in the Boswellia genus, which are native to Oman and Africa, including Ethiopia and Somalia. This is widely used for arthritis pain thanks to the anti-inflammatory properties found in the boswellia acid extract.
Various studies have been conducted on the use of certain types of Boswellia in treating RA symptoms. The natural anti-inflammatory qualities can help RA patients lessen inflammation, stiffness, and pain. Studies also revealed that frankincense can show positive immune system results.
Frankincense can be applied as an essential oil topically, or it can be taken orally when mixed into water to drink.
Tips for choosing a supplement for Osteoarthritis
Selecting a joint pain supplement can be overwhelming. When choosing which brands to buy, it’s important to note any added ingredients, which often have no proven joint health benefits. There is very little evidence surrounding multi-ingredient supplements being more effective than taking one ingredient varieties. As a general rule of thumb, less is more when reading ingredient lists.
Before choosing a supplement for osteoarthritis, please talk with your doctor or pharmacist about other medications you’re taking so they can check for potential interactions. Some joint health supplements can interact with certain medications, such as blood thinners.