Symptomized by swollen joints, decreased movement and stiffness osteoarthritis is one of the most common knee disorders seen in the US. It is caused by the breakdown of the cartilage between the bones. Though it can occur in all joints it is most evident in the knees which are subject to maximum wear and tear with age. It is more evident in women in the menopause age when the estrogen levels in the body go down; estrogen is known to protect the cartilage – connective tissue found in the joints. Men, on the other hand, are less predisposed to osteoarthritis.
How is osteoarthritis treated
It is often treated with painkillers and prescription drugs. Doctors suggest physical therapy and the use of supportive devices like crutches in severe cases. Several studies are being carried out to find out how certain joint supplements can help in improving the health of the cartilage and thereby play a role in managing osteoarthritis. Two substances that are frequently used are glucosamine and chondroitin.
What is Chondroitin?
Chondroitin is a naturally occurring substance in the connective tissue of animals and human beings. This substance maintains the spongy nature of the cartilage by drawing water and nutrients from the blood, as a result, it maintains the cushioning effect in the joints.
How does it help?
Chondroitin is found in the cartilage of cows and shark. It is also manufactured synthetically. A few studies have found that chondroitin supplements reduce pain and increase mobility. It is believed that this substance slows down the breakdown of cartilage. It is usually found as chondroitin sulfate, chonsurid and chondroitin sulfuric acid.
Research has shown that a combination of glucosamine and chondroitin have produced beneficial results in some cases and patients had experienced pain relief.
Is there any recommended dosage?
Several brands manufacture this substance in different weights and forms. But when you take it as a supplement you can take 1000-1200 mg a day. It is advisable to seek the advice of a doctor before you take this supplement because it is not suitable for everyone.
Risks of chondroitin
Like many other supplements, chondroitin is perfectly safe for a majority of people though some people have reported diarrhea, rashes, hives, and headaches. It is always safe to take supplements on doctor’s advice. Since chondroitin is obtained from shark or cow cartilage the chances of contamination are high. It is recommended that you always take high-grade supplements from reputed manufacturers to reduce the risk of allergies.
People suffering from the following problems should not take this supplement:
Prostate cancer
Bleeding disorders as chondroitin works as blood thinner
These supplements are also not recommended for young children and pregnant women as there is no evidence on how safe they are for this group of people.
According to a study published in The New England Journal of Medicine the efficacy of chondroitin in the treatment of osteoarthritis depends on each individual; in the study, only a few people showed pain relief from a combination of glucosamine and chondroitin while the others had no benefits at all.
Hence, if your general physician recommends the use of the supplements do go ahead and use them, you may be the lucky few for whom the substance works.

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