SupplementsKnee osteoarthritis, common among older adults, occurs when cartilage in the knee breaks down. That allows the bones to rub against one another, causing pain, swelling, stiffness and decreased mobility.

Drugstore shelves are filled with supplements containing chondroitin and glucosamine that promise healthier joints for those suffering from knee osteoarthritis. These supplements may sound like an appealing alternative to the weight loss, exercise and over the-counter pain relievers usually recommended to relieve knee osteoarthritis pain. However, it is important to take a closer look at how they work and whether they provide long-lasting relief.

Found naturally in the body, glucosamine and chondroitin are chemicals that keep joints and connective tissue healthy. They are often marketed together as a natural aid for those suffering from osteoarthritis. The side effects of both supplements are rare and mild, although glucosamine can have significant interactions with a few medications.

A review published this year in the American Journal of Sports Medicine looked at 13 previously published studies that examined various supplements for knee osteoarthritis. It found that the use of glucosamine and chondroitin may, in fact, protect joint cartilage and delay the progression of osteoarthritis in some patients.

Most experts would agree, however, that these supplements are not a replacement for exercise and weight loss. If you are overweight, it is important to know that every pound lost relieves at least two pounds of force on your knees while walking. In addition, strengthening the muscles around the knee, especially the hip and thigh, make the knee more stable, while stretching exercises help the joint remain mobile and flexible.

If you are considering taking glucosamine and chondroitin supplements to help alleviate the pain of osteoarthritis, we can fully evaluate your knee and devise a plan to enable you to maintain optimum health. We will review your condition and design an individualized diet and exercise program, including stretching and strength training, to protect your joints and complement any supplements you may be taking.

July PTEDigest Includes:

Baseball Finger: The Injury You Don’t Catch
Supplementing Treatment for Knee Osteoarthritis
Fitness: A Lifelong Commitment
Keep Your Head: Recovering from a Concussion
Redo for a Rotator Cuff Re-tear

Download PTD July 2015