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Is taking Chondroitin & Glucosamine for arthritis a waste of time and money?

Osteoarthritis (OA), or the ‘Wear and Tear Arthritis’ can affect multiple joints of the body; including ankles, knees, hips, low back, neck, shoulders, elbows and hands. Usually the early effects are felt in your 40’s.

OA can cause very mild → severe joint:

These symptoms are the result of a deterioration in cartilage throughout life. Cartilage is the substance that covers the ends of your bones that form the joints and is a firm, smooth coating that permits nearly frictionless motion. As this slick surface becomes thinner, roughened and breaks down, it can result in bone rubbing on bone.

osteoarthritis-and-healthy-joint

Cartilage is a smooth covering over the edge of bones to allow near frictionless movement. In the case of OA, it can wear down and potentially result in bone rubbing on bone.

Chondroitin Sulphate and Glucosamine are components of connective tissue found in cartilage and bone. They are thought to contribute to reduce cartilage breakdown, improve cartilage repair and reduce inflammation, and therefore relieve the symptoms of OA.

You can get them naturally from food however most food sources are not particularly appealing – like the shell on shell fish or animal joint and connective tissues – think gristle and cartilage. Alternatively, Chondroitin Sulphate and Glucosamine can be sourced via a non-prescriptive health supplement that can be taken as a medication.

Supplements are considered safe, however, caution should be advised when you have an allergy to seafood, have diabetes or are taking warfarin. Naturally, if you are already on medications, you should always discuss medications with your GP, whether those medications are ‘natural’ or otherwise.

But does it really work?

Studies have equally claimed that yes it absolutely does and no it doesn’t conclusively give any benefit. It is hard to compare like-with-like as the quality of the Chondroitin Sulphate and Glucosamine vary markedly between different manufacturers and most of the affirmative studies have been funded by the manufacturers themselves.

As a summation of the affirmative studies, 800mg of Chondroitin Sulphate combined with Glucosamine is the optimal dose.

Some of the available choices of supplements are:

180 tablets (2 x per day) RRP $29.90 (AUD)
120 tablets (2 x per day), RRP $80 (AUD), available at time of publishing for $35 (AUD)
120 tablets (3 x per day) RRP $46.99 (AUD), available at time of publishing for $33.49 (AUD)

So because the science is unclear, is the supplement a waste of time and money? It depends…

The answer is to find out for yourself by seeing how the supplements work for you. Some people swear by it – they think it is brilliant. Other people thinks it does nothing.

I would recommend:

  1. Physiotherapy assessment and complete a questionnaire about how your pain affects your activities (see below for an example questionnaire) to get your baseline
  2. Take a therapeutic dose of Chondroitin and Glucosamine daily for 6 months
  3. Repeat the same Physiotherapy assessment and questionnaire to see if anything has changed
  4. Stop taking the supplement for 6 months
  5. Repeat the assessment and questionnaire

If the supplement is going to work for you, it will be 4-6 weeks before you feel any benefit. However when the benefit is reduced pain and therefore,  less medication – it is probably well worth it.

Without performing this sort of scientific experiment on yourself you can not possibly know if the supplements are helping you or are actually a complete waste of time and money for you. 

Click on the links below to book online for a physiotherapy assessment and treatment or give us a call on 0438 648 884.

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