Neil, .. . After having a reaction to [NSAID] my doctor told me to try
Glucosamine, Chondroitin and Manganese. I did and those supplements have
made a dramatic difference in my life. I can now go up and down stairs,
sleep without shoulder pain, use my hands and run again.. . I believe.
These supplements taken properly are supposed to put moisture back into and
rebuild cartlage material. What is your opinion on these supplements and
have you had any experiences with them?
Cartilage is made up of collagen (a protein) and glucoseamino glycan (GAG). GAG has a high affinity for water, and in fact, weighs 1000 more wet than dry. Osteoarthritis is basically wear and tear on the articular cartilage. Since cartilage cells are generally innactive, repair doesn't usually take place until major damage has been done, and then often, the forces acting are compressive leading to the manufacture of bone spurs. The ideal stimulus for regeneration of articular cartilage being a combination of intermittant compression plus gliding.
Joint suppliments like glucoseamine and chondroitin are making news in my field, and in fact we sell one such product in our clinic - a "cartilage formula" (manufactured by a reputable company). One concern is that taken by mouth, there is little chance that Chondroitin will be absorbed since it is a macro-molocule (absorption rates of about 1%) vs absorption rates that are significantly higher for glucosamine and some other natural joint and cartilage supporting compounds like boswelia and others.
Since cartilage cells are barely alive (ie very slow metabolic rates), we have found that the compounds need to be taken for long periods of time - on the order of three to six months, in order for the nutrients to be utilized in the construction of the cartilage matrix.
I advocate that runners, especially middle aged runners take a cartilage
formula for prevention of osteoarthritis. The compound allows the
nutrients for cartilage regeneration to be made available to the cells as
they become active in repair of injuries. Additionally, an added benefit
is that the gucosamines have anti-inflam. properties without the side
effects of NSAIDs. For those who would like more information, I have a
brochure describing one such product, with an extensive research
bibliography. E-mail me with your mailing address to receive the brochure