Supplements for Chronic Joint Pain
Chronic joint pain occurs when a joint is inflamed or infected over a long period of time. Symptoms include pain, swelling, stiffness, limited movement and redness or warmth around the joint. While obesity, accidents and overuse can cause chronic joint pain, medical evaluation is recommended as it can be a symptom of arthritis, bursitis, osteoporosis, fibromyalgia or lupus. Aspirin and nonsteroidal, anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) can mask joint pain, but natural supplements may help ease the source of the pain without the side effects of anti-inflammatory drugs.
Antioxidants: Vitamins A, C, E and the mineral selenium are antioxidants known for their ability to fight free radicals. These are unstable, tissue-destroying chemicals that develop during metabolism or from exposure to environmental toxins like air, food and water pollution. Consumption of antioxidants can help prevent the inflammation, joint damage and chronic joint pain that can result from an excess of free radicals in the body.
Vitamin D: Vitamin D serves many functions throughout the body. The majority of people with health problems, specifically those with pain are deficient in vitamin D. Current research suggests that supplementation with vitamin D can help ease or cure chronic pain in many patients who are unresponsive to other treatments. Some doctors suggest a 2400 to 2800 IU daily supplement of vitamin D3 for treatment of chronic bone and joint pain.
Essential fatty acids (EFAs): To help regulate chronic joint pain, an individual needs a healthy ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 fatty acids in the diet. These are EFAs, meaning they are necessary for good health, but the body cannot produce them. Omega-3 fatty acids can reduce inflammation in the joints, and omega-6 fatty acids tend to cause inflammation.
Americans typically consume up to 25 times more omega-6 fatty acids than omega-3 fatty acids. A healthy ratio is in the range of 2:1 - 4:1, omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 fatty acids can be found in walnuts, some fruits and vegetables and in coldwater fish such as mackerel, herring, sturgeon, black cod and anchovies. Most omega-6 fatty acids in the diet come from seeds and nuts and their oils. Soybean oil is so common in processed and fast foods that roughly 20 percent of the calories in the American diet are estimated to come from this oil.
Glucosamine and Chondroitin: Many suffering from chronic joint pain are advocates of supplementation with glucosamine and/or chondroitin. Glucosamine occurs naturally in the body and is important in building cartilage, which is the tough connective tissue that protects joints.
Research has suggested that glucosamine may be an effective treatment for osteoarthritis (OA), a disease that commonly occurs with aging in which cartilage breaks down and is eventually lost. Results imply that glucosamine supplements may be an effective treatment, specifically for OA of the knee or hip with the reduction of joint pain, improved function and reduced inflammation and stiffness.
Chondroitin is a naturally-occurring molecule in the body that is also a major component of cartilage. It helps attract fluid – mostly water - into the cartilage, it encourages new growth, and it may block enzymes that destroy cartilage. Glucosamine and chondroitin can be found in individual supplements or in supplements that pair them together.
Hyaluronic Acid: Hyaluronic Acid (HA) occurs naturally in all living organisms. In humans, it is concentrated in areas that need high amounts of fluid like the eyes and the heart, and it is a chief component of synovial fluid which cushions and protects the joints. HA declines with age and the synovial fluid becomes thin, providing less shock absorption. This causes increased friction and can lead to chronic joint pain.
There are several types of hyaluronic acid supplements on the market. The best are extracted from rooster combs, one of nature's richest sources of HA. The low molecular weight of HA derived from rooster combs is absorbed easily and more efficiently by the body than other types of HA supplements.
Chronic joint pain can be debilitating and take the enjoyment out of many daily activities. Unlike aspirin and NSAIDs, natural remedies can treat the source of joint pain and provide relief without side effects.