Let me go on record with this fact:
Once injury or osteoarthritis has occurred on a soft tissue such as your shoulders, knees, elbows or Achilles, there is NO magic pill to fix the athletic injury. Lower back pain also fall in this same category.
That pain and damage you feel is from weeks or months or years of misuse and abuse. Something was overloaded. Something wasn’t biomechanically correct.
And yes, it hurts like hell.
Mind you, there are pain relievers that will mask the pain, and reduce the inflammation, but the injury (or stress) is still there.
And even once the injury (i.e the pain and inflammation) goes away, if you don’t address the imbalance, then you’ll start the vicious circle all over again. I discussed this cycle in a previous article called What Causes Shin Splints, How to Prevent them, and Treatment
If you recall my typical training and injury cycle:
3 Reasons why you get Injured
John Smith of HSI once said he believes there are only 3 reasons why an athlete gets injured:
- when there is an imbalance
- when the athlete is tired (i.e. over training)
- when the mind wants to do something the body does NOT want to do (Master’s athletes, are you listening?)
Glucosamine and Chondroitin Sulfate Sources
Both Glucosamine and Chondroitin sulfate are found naturally in the body. Glucosamine stimulates the formation (and repair) of articular cartilage.
Chondroitin sulfate prevents other body enzymes from degrading the building blocks of joint cartilage.
Together, they form a complex pathway of millions of biochemical pathways in the human body.
Both are available as over-the-counter supplements and exists naturally from animal sources, especially shellfish. This may be a problem for those with shellfish allergies, or religious beliefs that does not allow eating animals with split hooves, such as pork or shellfish.
Newer products are made from eggshell membrane and do not contain any shellfish products.
Typical dosages are approximately 1500mg daily for Glucosamine and 1200 mg for Chondroitin Sulfate.
Few side effects from any of the treatments were reported. Those reported were generally mild, such as upset stomach.
One thing to consider is he Glucosamine and Chondroitin Sulfate used were testing may vary in purity, potency, quality, and consistency among batches and between vendors.
Glucosamine and Chondroitin Sulfate – Hope or Hype?
There are literally thousands of studies out there to prove or debunk whether Glucosamine and Chondroitin Sulfate really work.
But there is no long term proof that either substance, taken singly or in combination, will actually slow the degenerative process or restore cartilage in arthritic joints.
My belief is once the injury pain and inflammation has begun, there is no pill you can take to cure it. There are only pills out there to cure the symptoms temporarily.
However, Glucosamine and Chondroitin Sulfate may be beneficial in the prevention phase, along with the other 99 things you do already. At the end, it is hard to establish what worked and what didn’t work.
I also believe for the non-athlete with soft tissue injuries, a comprehensive plan of weight loss, improved diet, and exercise is 100 times better than any pill out there. While you are at it, add education to the mix.
Glucosamine, Chondroitin Sulfate and Methylsulfonylmethane (MSM)
I’ll discuss the benefits of MSM in a later article, but there are several reports that Glucosamine and Chondroitin Sulfate in conjunction with MSM may be beneficial.