The Role of Joint Supplements in Osteoarthritis

Osteoarthritis (OA) is a common condition of degrading cartilage affecting over 32.5 millions of American adults. Cartilage is a cushioning tissue of your joints.

When it starts breaking down from injury, inflammation, wear and tear, or other factor, you may notice symptoms such as pain, stiffness, and gradual loss of joint function appear.

There is no known way to completely reverse osteoarthritis, but for many people, the symptoms don’t actually get worse over time—especially if you take care of your lifestyle and start addressing the issue early on.1

Medical treatments are typically only necessary in late OA stages. These include using painkillers and topical creams, and in extreme scenarios, a surgery. This is why many people look for natural supplements as a safe and gentle alternative.

Today at Mobility OI, we explore the potential benefits of these supplements for osteoarthritis relief.

They Act as Natural Analgesics

One of the telltale signs of osteoarthritis is joint pain, more so when moving. Another common symptom is feeling stiff and achy after being inactive for a certain period, for example after a night of sleep.

The way joint supplements help here is by blocking inflammation at the molecular level. This includes inhibiting pro-inflammatory proteins and enzymes like NF-kB and COX-2.

The most common and studied OA relief supplements include:

  • Boswellia Serrata. Also called Indian Frankincense, Boswellia inhibits enzymes like 5-lipoxygenase which encourage inflammation. As a result, you may notice less pain and swelling.2
  • Chondroitin. It’s an essential part of joint tissue that hydrates and lubricates, providing impact absorption. While the studies are mixed, many people report improvements in OA symptoms. You may notice smoother fluidity and mobility of joints when moving.
  • Omega-3s. These are essential fatty acids which are linked to improved joint health and reduced pain.3 Omega-3s are found in fish oil but you can also find them in algae and plant sources like flaxseeds and walnuts. Many people consume too many omega-6s, which are inflammatory, and too little omega-3s, which are anti-inflammatory. By working on this ratio you may see a reduction in inflammation, joint pain, and other symptoms of OA.

They Reduce Inflammation

By relieving inflammation, joint supplements reduce both pain and stiffness. You should be able to exercise and move easily, without aches.

You may also notice wider flexibility. These benefits come from quenching chronic inflammation, which is what damages joint tissue.

Joint swelling is another symptoms common to OA sufferers that joint supplements target, again, through their anti-inflammatory bioactivities. The most studied ones for this goal include:

  • Curcumin. This is a highly anti-inflammatory molecule found in turmeric. Evidence shows it could be as effective as NSAIDs.4
  • MSM. This is a compound with a sulfur molecule, known for its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory qualities. Many people who supplement MSM see reduced pain and joint swelling, to name just a few benefits.5

They Lubricate Joints

Osteoarthritis can aggravate from daily wear and tear, which comes from friction in joints. This may be the result of lack of synovial fluid, which is important for joint lubrication.

Supplements can aid this problem by enhancing hydration and quality of synovial fluid. This may result in you experiencing smoother movement and less pain when moving.

  • Among the most popular joint supplements for this goal is hyaluronic acid. This molecule is found naturally in our body, and it contributes to the shock-absorbing and lubricating properties of synovial fluid.

While doctors sometimes inject hyaluronic acid (HA) directly into the joint of a patient for treating joint pain and function, HA can also work for knee pain when taken orally as a supplement.6

They Support Cartilage

Just as important as reducing inflammation and pain is providing your joints with the building blocks needed to maintain optimal integrity, health, and function. Joint supplements can provide these materials, helping to promote long-term joint comfort.

  • The two most common ones for this purpose include glucosamine and chondroitin. While they are not proven to work, some studies suggest glucosamine and chondroitin might reduce the loss of cartilage while also relieving OA symptoms.

Literature & Citations

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