The most common causes of joint pain are:
- Sprains and tears of connective tissue
- Ruptured, worn, or torn cartilage
- Bone Fractures
- Joint dislocation
- Joint inflammation
Sometimes knee pain occurs suddenly, other times it appears and worsens over time. Either way, it sucks and it's debilitating! So what can athletes do about it?
The Basics: rest & ice
Before we list the most effective supplements for relieving joint pain, we're going to cover the fundamentals — rest and ice.
This may seem too basic to work, but rest and ice can heal joints better than taking medications, vitamins, or herbs. And remember, pain meds only target pain receptors — they don’t help joints heal faster.
Once you've tried resting and icing your joints, the supplements listed below will reduce joint inflammation, alleviate pain, and strengthen your joints.
The best supplements for knee pain are:
- MSM (Methylsulfonylmethane)
- Curcumin (Turmeric)
Collagen strengthens the cartilage in your joints and helps reduce swelling, stiffness and joint pain. But not all collagen relieves joint pain. Specifically, type II collagen is the most abundant compound in your joint, making up 60% of your cartilage's dry weight. The total weight of your joint cartilage mainly consists of tissue fluid, which is replenished by glucosamine and chondroitin — we'll describe those supplements in a later section.
What makes collagen different from other types of protein? Two amino acids: glycine and proline. Glycine helps to slow down the aging process and proline stimulates the production of collagen. Getting adequate levels of Vitamin C is also a great way to naturally stimulate your body's own collagen production.
Glucosamine is a natural compound found in your joint cartilage. You'll find several forms of glucosamine supplements — glucosamine sulfate, glucosamine hydrochloride, and N-acetyl glucosamine. You want glucosamine sulfate - that's the only form proven to reduce joint irritation by replenishing your synovial fluid — the internal tissue fluid that lubricates your joints. The other forms of glucosamine need more research and studies to confirm their benefits.
MSM is a potent anti-inflammatory — it reduces inflammation, not just in your joints, but in your other tissues as well. This is why we combine 500mg of MSM with glucosamine in our Rejuvenation Lemon Bites — to create an easy way to get all of your important joint-support supplements in one healthy meal replacement.
What does MSM mean?
MSM is an abbreviation for methylsulfonylmethane — a substance that's naturally found in your body and in plants and animals. It's taken to treat osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, tendonitis, and tenosynovitis. Some people also use it for treating IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome), constipation, hemorrhoids, and diverticulosis — although its effectiveness for these purposes isn't well documented in scientific literature.
This randomized study of 100 men and women found that treatment with MSM for 12 weeks decreased pain, stiffness, and swelling in joints. The group receiving MSM also self-reported less difficulty walking and getting out of bed.
Turmeric is a root of a plant related to ginger. It's been used both as a spice and a medicinal herb in India for thousands of years. A large body of evidence from high-quality studies demonstrates that turmeric has significant health benefits. These benefits include reducing inflammation, improving cognitive function, and protecting against heart disease and cancer.
Turmeric acts as a natural pain reliever by inhibiting certain pain-causing enzymes in our bodies similar to over-the-counter pain relievers like ibuprofen. The active medicinal compounds in turmeric are called curcuminoids. While there are many, the main curcuminoid is curcumin. It's responsible for many of turmeric's powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects.
For joint pain, choose curcumin over turmeric. Turmeric drastically inhibits iron absorption. It can bind to nearly all absorbable iron and cause iron deficiency. However, randomized studies show curcumin — a stronger version of turmeric — doesn't block iron's absorption.
The percentage of curcumin in turmeric root is quite low — only 3%. That's why many nutritionists and dietitians recommend more concentrated curcumin supplements instead of normal turmeric. For example, the supplement GRIT uses for its Rejuvenation Lemon Bites contains 95% curcumin — a highly effective dose. However, it's important to note that curcumin doesn't work well in isolation and is best digested when combined with other compounds.
Chondroitin is a naturally-produced compound in your body that forms your hyaline cartilage — a tissue that cushions your joints. You can naturally add it to your diet by drinking bone broth and eating meat that contains connective tissue.
The supplement form of chondroitin is chondroitin sulfate and is taken for joint-strengthening purposes. Chondroitin Sulfate has two ingredients — chondroitin and dextran sulfate. People commonly use it to help combat symptoms of osteoarthritis, a painful condition in which the cartilage wears down at the ends of your bones.
Note: although commonly taken, the data taken on the effectiveness of chondroitin sulfate has been contradictory. More high-quality studies are needed to confirm its benefits for those suffering from arthritis. This is why GRIT doesn't currently include chondroitin as an ingredient in Rejuvenation Lemon Bites.
We've just covered the five best supplements to take for strengthening joints and reducing knee pain. Joint pain, whether in the knees or other joints, is common, and is usually caused by an injury or medical condition. While these situations can't be completely prevented, you can take steps to mitigate and treat your joint pain.
Remember, before buying supplements:
- rest and ice your joints
- consult a doctor
- do your research
Whether your joint pain appeared suddenly or gradually over time, it'll take time for your body to heal. When you take supplements do the following to ensure best results:
- Take your supplements consistently — make it a healthy habit.
- Increase your nutrient intake — eat foods with healthy fats, protein, Vitamin C, Vitamin D, and Vitamin E.
- Stay hydrated — water helps your body transport helpful nutrients to your different organs and tissue.
- Some supplements are better digested together — combine glucosamine, MSM, turmeric, and collagen with black pepper.
If you're dealing with debilitating joint pain, be patient with your body! Eat a nutrient-rich diet. Your body will reward you with a healthier, more energized body. Good luck.