Many people experience what is called “wear and tear” arthritis. It is also called osteoarthritis, degenerative arthritis and old age arthritis. This commonly occurs in all the joints of the body. It can develop from repetitive stress to the joints, trauma of joints and can be from poor dietary habits.
The site of osteoarthritis is the area where two bones meet. This area is called a joint. The surface of the bones of a joint is lined with special cartilage that must be able to “resurface” itself because of ongoing wear. Normally, our body produces chemicals needed to handle the resurfacing. However, sometimes we don’t produce enough resurfacing chemicals to allow for normal thickness of the cartilage surface. When the cartilage degenerates, we can say that osteoarthritis has occurred.
This type of arthritis most commonly causes symptoms of early morning stiffness, stiffness following periods of rest, pain that worsens on joint use and loss of joint motion. If one were to look at an x-ray of the joint the two most common findings would reveal a narrowing of the joint space called bone on bone and bone spurs. These are x-ray signs that the degeneration has progressed and is now called degenerative joint disease.
Fortunately, there is a nonpharmaceutical supplement called glucosamine sulfate that has been called nature’s arthritis cure. Glucosamine sulfate is a vital chemical component needed by the cartilage of our joints. Our bodies normally produce glucosamine sulfate in sufficient quantities to fully resurface joint cartilage. When we traumatize a joint from one single episode or from repetitive stress we may not be able to produce enough of our own glucosamine sulfate to repair joint cartilage.
This happened to me over 20 years ago. As a chiropractor, I use my hands repetitively. As a result, I started to get symptoms of stiffness and soreness of my hands. I recognized that I was in the early stages of osteoarthritis.
I began to take a good quality brand of glucosamine sulfate consisting of 500 mg three times a day for a total of 1500 mg daily. Within weeks the pain in my hands resolved. I continued with the same amount of glucosamine for a full three months which allowed the cartilage to fully repair. Following this I reduced the dosage of glucosamine sulfate to 1000 mg per day and continued to do well. After a couple months, I tried reducing to 500mg per day but started to have discomfort return. So, I went back to 1000 mg per day and have continued to the present. My hands remain symptom-free and show no visible signs of degeneration of the joints.
In the past couple decades, I have seen hundreds of my patients get relief of osteoarthritis pain by taking glucosamine sulfate in the manner I just described. My experience has been that smaller joints like the hands, elbows, shoulders and knees seem to respond well to glucosamine sulfate supplementation. I cannot say that I have seen great results for joints of the feet, hips and spine.
I should mention that the quality of the product does seem to matter. I have seen that many people do not respond well to the supplement they may buy at a big box store, grocery stores and drugstores. Many brands of glucosamine sulfate supplements are made from shellfish. As a result, anyone who has an allergic response to shellfish should not take this product.
Supplementation of glucosamine sulfate is certainly worth trying. A short, initial trial for a small expense will let one know if there will be a benefit. If improvement occurs it is wise to continue using the supplement as a natural, low-cost method to minimize a potentially long-term degenerative disease.