Joint Supplements for Arthritis

15 Product That May Help Relieve Joint Pain

When it comes to choosing a joint supplement, there is an ever-increasing number of products that promise more than they deliver. In fact, an independent analysis conducted by Consumer Reports reported of the 16 most popular joint supplements, no less than seven—44%—fell short of the ingredients listed on the product label.

In the United States, supplement manufacturers are not subject to the same regulatory scrutiny as the pharmaceutical industry, either in terms of research, quality assurance, or marketing. Because of this, you need to take a guarded stance when it comes to manufacturer's claims.

With that said, joint supplements have been studied more extensively than other supplements, occasionally with positive findings. Independent certification by the U.S. Pharmacopeia (USP), NSF International, and ConsumerLab provides further assurance that the product is pure and contains the ingredients listed on the product label.

The following 15 joint supplements have been independently certified and may offer benefits if you are seeking relief from arthritis and other sources of chronic joint pain.

1

Glucosamine Sulfate

Glucosamine supplement pills in a patient's hand

Keith Getter / Getty Images

Glucosamine is a substance naturally produced by the body from glucose and the amino acid glutamine. Glucosamine is used to synthesize glycosaminoglycan, a type of molecule central to the formation and repair of cartilage and other body tissues. 

Glucosamine sulfate supplements are taken on the assumption that they will raise glucosamine levels in the body to such levels as to repair (or even reverse) joint cartilage damage.

Though the evidence in support of glucosamine's use is largely mixed, the European GUIDE (Glucosamine Unum In Die Efficacy) study concluded that it was as effective in relieving joint pain as Tylenol (acetaminophen).

With that said, the researchers questioned whether glucosamine supplements used on their own actually improved joint function.

USP-certified glucosamine supplements include:

  • NOW Foods Glucosamine
  • BulkSupplements Pure Glucosamine Sulfate

The recommended dose of glucosamine is 1,500 milligrams (mg) per day for up to six months. At this level, it is generally considered safe.

2

Chondroitin Sulfate

Chondroitin supplement bottle

Amazon

Chondroitin is the most abundant glycosaminoglycan in cartilage and contributes to the resiliency of cartilage. Chondroitin is also important in blocking enzymes that can destroy cartilage.

Chondroitin sulfate supplements are intended to enhance the shock-absorbing properties of collagen and prevent the further breakdown of cartilage. They do so by helping cartilage cells retain water and, when used with glucosamine, may even help reverse cartilage loss.

A 2017 study published in the Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases suggested that a daily 800-mg dose of chondroitin sulfate was able to provide the same pain relief as a 200-mg dose of Celebrex (celecoxib).

Chondroitin is commonly co-formulated with glucosamine. Reputable brands include:

  • Kirkland Signature Glucosamine & Chondroitin
  • Spring Valley Triple-Strength Glucosamine Chondroitin
  • Osteo Bi-Flex Joint Health
  • Nature’s Bounty Glucosamine Chondroitin Complex

The recommended dose of chondroitin is 400 mg taken three times a day for up to six months. While considered safe at this dose, there remains a lack of evidence regarding its long-term safety.

3

Methylsulfonylmethane (MSM)

MSM supplement bottle

Photo from Amazon

Methylsulfonylmethane, also known as MSM, is believed by some to support the health of ligaments (the fibrous connective tissues that hold a joint together). Research suggests that it may also help reduce joint inflammation and pain.

While glucosamine and chondroitin have scant clinical research to support their use, MSM has even less. People who endorse the product believe that the sulfur contained in MSM helps ligaments maintain flexibility and strength.

MSM is available as an individual supplement but is more commonly found in a supplement containing glucosamine, chondroitin, or both.

Reputable certified brands include:

  • GNC Triple Strength
  • The Vitamin Shoppe Joint Solution
  • Nature's Bounty Extra-Strength Complex
  • Nutramax Cosamin DS
  • Schiff Move-Free Advanced Triple Strength
  • Schiff Glucosamine Plus MSM
  • Healthy Joints System Glucosamine Chondroitin with MSM
  • Bluebonnet Vegetarian Glucosamine MSM
  • Solgar Glucosamine MSM

MSM is typically prescribed at a 500-mg dose taken two to three times daily for up to six months.

A Word From Verywell

It is important to remember that the independent certification of a joint supplement is a stamp of approval of its quality, but it does not mean that it actually works.

Even so, quality matters. To ensure safety and purity, the Arthritis Foundation recommends buying supplements from reputable national brands and being wary of low-cost alternatives that claim to have the same ingredients at a fraction of the price.

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Article Sources
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