The winter weather is moving in, and with it often comes an increase in complaints about joint pain. Science has yet to confirm what exactly it is about winter that makes arthritic joints seize up. It may be barometric pressure change, increased humidity, or a temperature drop, but generations of anecdotal evidence show our joints need a little extra consideration as the season takes a turn for the chilly.
What is “OA”?
Osteoarthritis (OA) is the most common type of arthritis, affecting approximately half of the population over 65 in at least one joint . OA is characterized by gradual wear and loss of cartilage in the joints (the cartilage is partially constructed of glucosamine and chondroitin), resulting in friction between the bones, which then leads to pain and swelling. Some of this friction is also a result of reduced hyaluronic acid, which is the normal, natural lubricant of the joint . The negative effects of OA are not restricted to cartilage; bones and synovium also undergo changes from wear and inflammation . As such, OA management plans are designed to relieve pain and maintain joint mobility in daily life over the long term.
Are there supplements for joint pain?
While medical therapies primarily address the treatment of joint pain with analgesics and anti-inflammatory drugs, these treatments can cause serious, adverse gastrointestinal and cardiovascular events, especially with long term use . Luckily, there are some natural alternatives or complementary nutrients that can support joint health without these nasty side effects. For example, in the last couple of decades, clinical trials involving highly arthritic patients have demonstrated equal pain relief between glucosamine/chondroitin and expensive anti-inflammatory drugs .
Is lubrication important for joints?
Glucosamine and chondroitin are involved in the structural matrix of cartilage and draw hydration to cartilage as key building blocks in the production of hyaluronic acid. In fact, glucosamine is a rate-limiting factor in the natural production of hyaluronic acid, so supplementation of glucosamine may lead to more natural hyaluronic acid . Hyaluronic acid supplementation has also been shown to support tissue hydration, joint lubrication, pain reduction, and improved function in patients with OA of the knee [5,6].
Glucosamine and chondroitin are considered long-term structure-modifying agents as they have been shown to have a beneficial effect of delaying long-term knee OA cartilage loss , in addition to reducing pain, stiffness, functional limitations and joint swelling [8,9]. In subjects with knee pain, glucosamine and chondroitin supplementation has shown beneficial effects on both pain management and locomotor functions . Some of this effect may be credited to the fact that these nutrients contribute to further production of hyaluronic acid for joint lubrication, and they are building materials for cartilage, but aside from these structural functions, glucosamine and chondroitin have anti-inflammatory properties . This anti-inflammatory action may delay inflammation-induced breakdown of the cartilage while the building-block functions may help to support the joint structure and keep the joint lubricated. Together, these effects may lead to less pain and increased mobility of the affected joint.
Don’t wait until the harsh cold of winter reminds you of your arthritis pain. Get a jump start on supporting the health of your joints by adding Glucosamine Chondroitin with Hyaluronic Acid by Metabolic Maintenance to your supplemental health regimen. As always, we do suggest discussing any nutritional changes to your lifestyle with a trusted healthcare professional before committing to the change.
- Jerosch, Jörg. “Effects of glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate on cartilage metabolism in OA: outlook on other nutrient partners especially omega-3 fatty acids.” International journal of rheumatology 2011 (2011).
- Parade Magazine. “Osteoarthritis Treatments: Glucosamine-Chondroitin vs. Hyaluronic Acid.” Parade Magazine. July 11, 2007. https://parade.com/47747/parade/osteoarthritis-treatments-glucosaminechondroitin-vs-hyaluronic-acid/
- Wandel, Simon, et al. “Effects of glucosamine, chondroitin, or placebo in patients with osteoarthritis of hip or knee: network meta-analysis.” Bmj 341 (2010): c4675.
- Brief, Andrew A., Stephen G. Maurer, and Paul E. Di Cesare. “Use of Glucosamine and Chondroitin Sulfatein the Management of Osteoarthritis.” JAAOS-Journal of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons 9.2 (2001): 71-78.
- Uitterlinden, E. J., et al. “Glucosamine increases hyaluronic acid production in human osteoarthritic synovium explants.” BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders 9.1 (2008): 120.
- Pavelká, Karel, et al. “Glucosamine sulfate use and delay of progression of knee osteoarthritis: a 3-year, randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind study.” Archives of internal medicine 162.18 (2002): 2113-2123.