Using Glucosamine and Chondroitin for Joint Pain

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Filed Under: Q&As, Bone & Joint Health
Last Reviewed 03/26/2014

I’ve been taking glucosamine and chondroitin for years for my painful arthritic knees. I heard a press report that those supplements don’t help much. Should I keep taking them?

As I often point out, the media does a mediocre job in getting the results of studies straight. 

The study findings that you’re likely referring to were actually positive. Of the participating individuals with moderate to severe arthritis, 79 percent felt significant relief from taking glucosamine and chondroitin (500 mg three times a day and 400 mg three times a day, respectively) . In fact, relief increased in each month of the six-month study period.

Glucosamine and chondroitin do a lot of good, especially for moderate to severe arthritis. In addition to reducing pain, they also help nourish depleted cartilage. Both supplements have superb track records around the world and, in some countries, they are sold as prescription.

Additional Bone and Joint Supplements

If you’re looking for additional support, high doses of fish oil have also been shown to help arthritis symptoms. I recommend 5–10 grams a day in divided doses, for patients with arthritic pain (as long as they aren’t taking Coumadin, as fish oil can increase the blood-thinning effects of Coumadin).

Another option is methylsulfonylmethane, or MSM. This sulfur supplement works as a natural anti-inflammatory and pain reliever. For arthritis relief, start with 5 grams twice a day. If aches and pains proceed go up to 10 or 15 grams.

If symptoms still linger—as they often will in severe cases—you can experiment with other supplements, such as white willow bark and boswellia.

Remember one thing though: There is no cure for an arthritic joint, other than replacement. You can help relieve, and perhaps even overcome symptoms by taking glucosamine and chondroitin and these other supplements long-term, but you’ll need to keep taking them. More often than not, if you stop, the symptoms will return. 

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