Here are six common supplements for arthritis and the evidence of their effects on joint pain.

Glucosamine. This supplement may exert analgesic and disease-modifying actions. But any positive effect is usually not super dramatic. A recent six-month study didn’t find any significant differences between a group taking glucosamine hydrochloride compared to a placebo group drinking diet lemonade. However, some researchers have pointed out that some benefit is seen when aglucosamine sulfate formulation istaken, especially for longer than six months.

Avocado Soybean Unsaponifiables (ASU). There is a generally positive trend for ASU in most small scale trials. In particular, patients taking ASU required a lower dosage of traditional pain relievers. Overall, it appears that this supplement is most effective in patients with knee arthritis.

Chondroitin. Lab studies have revealed that chondroitin sulfate can actually suppress inflammatory pathways in the body. Some studies also postulate that this supplement can actually ward off or slow down the progression of joint damage.However, when multiple studies that looked at thousands of patients are pooled together, the evidence shows only borderline benefit.

Methylsulfonylmethane (MSM). Studies have shown that a12-week course of supplementation with MSM led to significant reduction in both pain and physical disability. However, there’s not much data regardingside effectsor interactions with other medications for MSM.

Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids (PUFAs). The ever-expanding health benefits of PUFAs seem to grow daily. Research has repeatedly revealed improvement in overall joint pain, as well as less need for conventional pain medications in patients with rheumatoid arthritis who takefatty acid supplementation.

Ginger Extract. There’s early evidence that ginger can have therapeutic benefits similar to over-the-counter pain relievers. The analgesic benefit has been shown in a few studies to be above and beyond a simple placebo effect. Studies are showing that it cannot only help with pain, but also with morning stiffness.

What’s a Person With Arthritis to Do?

The most important action you can take is to be under the care of a good physician whowill listen to you and work with you to find solutions for your pain and inflammation.

Work With Your Doctor

Ultimately, you should inform your physician of any and all supplements you do take. There can be significant and potentially serious medication interactions and side effects related to supplements, no matter how benign they sound.

One prime example is interactions with blood thinners. Some can increase or decrease other medication concentrations in your body. I would also not advise any pregnant or lactating women to start this type of supplementation.

Set Realistic Expectations.

If you do have chronic, progressive arthritis and you and your physician think you’re a good candidate for supplementation, then do so with the understanding that these are not super potent instant fixes. Rather, most seem to work moderately at best and over time. Setting realistic expectations is key when dealing with chronic disease.

Supplements to ease pain
Dr. Mahsa Tehrani

Dr. Mahsa Tehrani, M.D.  is co-founder of Arthritis and Rheumatology Clinical Center of Northern Virginia located in Fairfax. Dr. Tehrani is double board certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.  She can be reached at 703-734-2222.

Arthritis and Rheumatology Clinic of Northern Virginia proudly serves  Vienna, Tyson’s Corner, Fairfax, Great Falls, Mclean, Falls Church, Dunn Loring, Sterling, Herndon, Chantilly, Reston, Ashburn, Leesburg, Burke, Annandale, Arlington, Oakton, Washington D.C., Bethesda, Potomac, Silver Spring, Gaithersburg, Rockville and more.