There are two things I’ve learned since moving into my new home.
1. I had no problem meeting my step goal from Miss Courtney Crozier’s summer challenge since I now have 3 sets of stairs to go up and down all day.
2. The creaking noise I’m hearing is not from my stairs, it’s from my knees.
I’m not sure what caused it: whether it’s my years of sports playing goalie and catcher in high school or rugby in college. It could be the stress on my body from the extra 120 pounds of weight that I had less than a year ago. Maybe I’m just getting, dare I say it, … getting old??
The good news is I’m not in pain…yet. However, this could be the warning signs of something greater and as a health care professional I should not be ignoring things. I am considering taking some supplements to help lubricate my joints like I’m the tin man in the Wizard of Oz.
The most common supplement you will see promoted for osteoarthritis are products containing glucosamine and chondrotin. Brand names for these products would be Osteo-Bi-Flex or Move Free, just to give some examples. Glucosamine is derived from the exoskeleton of sea creatures like shrimp, lobster and crabs so if you have a shellfish allergy it is important that you avoid these. Side effects are usually stomach related including gas, abdominal bloating and cramping, but complaints are rare.
Chondroitin is often derived from shark and cow cartilage so there is some concern here about the possible transmission of mad cow disease, however no cases have been reported. Chondrotin can interact with blood thinners like warfarin so I would urge patients to speak to their doctors before starting anything. If the doctor feels the supplement is appropriate they may want to monitor you more closely.
Another product that is found in these products is called MSM, or methylsulfonylmethane. It claims that it can help to reduce pain and swelling and improve overall joint function. There is some controversy with these products having less ingredient in them than what the package suggests.
SAMe, which is a supplement more commonly used for depression, can also be used for OA. Studies found it was similar to NSAIDs like ibuprofen and Aleve in reducing symptoms like pain and swelling. The onset to relief of symptoms was about 30 days where an NSAIDs took about 15 days to see improvement. Investigators believe that SAMe may stimulate cartilage growth and repair. SAMe is not recommended for patients who are on antidepressants and people who have bipolar disorder, as it may trigger a manic state. SAMe has only been available in the US since 1999 but has been used in Spain, Germany and Italy for around 25-30 years.
If you prefer to use nutrition instead of medicine to boost joint health, avocados have been shown to reduce joint symptoms, usually more so in hip OA than knee.
I’d like to get my running shoes back on and possibly participate in a marathon and I don’t want my body to be what stops me. Just like it’s important to take calcium and vitamin D for strong bones, it’s also important to keep our joints happy and healthy.
September 10th, 2011