Does Glucosamine Help with Knee Injuries?
You might have heard your marathon running friend with knee pain talk about supplementing with glucosamine for his or her injured knee. Or, maybe someone told you it can help your knee or hip injury or arthritis. Well, it MIGHT….and it might not.
That’s kind of how we’ll sum up the science on it, but there is something you can do to get the most benefit from glucosamine, so keep reading fit friend.
What is Glucosamine?
Glucosamine is a natural chemical compound made by the body by combining glucose and glutamine. Its habitat is cartilage. Ahhh, cartilage, the stuff that takes a beating with age.
Cartilage is a group of protein molecules and provides protection so your bones don’t rub against each other. Did you just visualize that? How about the sound it would make. Eck. Thanks, cartilage, for not putting us through that.
But, when it becomes inflamed or reduced by an injury or arthritis, that visualization can help you guess how painful something as simple as walking can be. That can be a big problem for active people.
Glucosamine has been shown to help rebuild cartilage and to possess anti-inflammatory effects.
Aside from the body making it, it is also available as a supplement—but its made from shellfish, so shellfish allergies sufferers beware.
Does Glucosamine Help with Osteoarthritis and Knee Injuries?
Glucosamine is a necessary component in making glucosaminoglycans (GAGs), hence the name. GAGs bind water to cartilage when then facilitates the creation of collagen’s tissue structure. GAGs and collagen then work together to construct and repair cartilage. Good lookin’ couple right there. Thanks, glucosamine, for bringing them together.
Because of its role in forming cartilage, those with Osteoarthritis (OA) or injuries to the knee or hip affecting cartilage often supplement with glucosamine with hopes in expediting the cartilage reconstruction process.
Glucosamine supplementation is considered a form of treatment for degenerative joint disease and/or injury by reducing or limiting degeneration and supporting tissue repair.
But does it work?
Many studies have conflicting results. However; the consistency in these studies, the number of subjects, the amount of glucosamine, length of time invested, the lacking functional exercises and previous treatments have called into question the validity of the tests.
When taken for pain, it runs as effective as placebo. Given its role in the repair of cartilage, pain relief would be a secondary benefit.
However, one study in patients with mild to moderate OA suggested that glucosamine had long‐term structure‐modifying and some symptom‐modifying effects.
Which makes sense—Like Rome–cartilage isn’t built in a day. Most studies were conducted over a few weeks. The studies that show glucosamine is effective were in trials of three months or longer.
One study that lasted 3 months with doses of glucosamine 2,000 mg per day showed significant changes in both pain and mobility. The study showed many improvements presented themselves after 2 months of glucosamine supplementation.
Additional studies support both the increased dosage between 2,000 and 3,000 mg for periods of at least 2-4 months for noticeable improvements.
Can I Get Glucosamine From Foods?
While it’s made from the shells of shellfish, unless you want to munch on shells, then—no. You can rely on your body to manufacture it normally, or if you have OA or an injury, consider supplementing to help reconstruct cartilage and improve mobility and pain.
Get Going with Glucosamine Supplements
If you have OA or an injury, obviously we are going to tell you—talk to your doc first! But while you’re there—bring up glucosamine, get his or her opinion on using it as treatment to limit degeneration or repair injuries. If you’re an athlete, look for supplements that contain glucosamine, along with other recovery aid nutrients and aminos to keep your joints oiled and your body recovering more quickly.