Joint Supplements for Arthritis

Products That May Help Relieve Joint Pain

Joint supplements like glucosamine, chondroitin, and methylsulfonylmethane are used to prevent and treat arthritis pain.

However, many joint supplements promise more than they deliver. A Consumer Reports analysis found 44% of the most popular joint supplements fell short of their ingredients list. It is important to know what to look for when choosing a joint supplement.

This article discusses joint supplements and the research behind the most effective supplements. It also explains what to look for when choosing supplements and a list of quality products.

What To Look For

In the United States, supplement manufacturers are not subject to the same regulatory scrutiny as the pharmaceutical industry regarding terms of research, quality assurance, or marketing. Because of this, you need to be on guard when reviewing the manufacturer's claims.

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

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

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).

Despite those findings, 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.

Chondroitin Sulfate

Chondroitin supplement bottle


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.

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.

Other Joint Supplements

Several other compounds show promise for easing arthritis pain. Additional joint supplements include:

  • Avocado soybean Unsaponifiables (ASU)
  • Borage oil
  • Boswellia serrata
  • Cat's Claw
  • Dimethyl sulfoxide (DSMO)
  • Fish oil and omega-3 fatty acids
  • S-adenosyl-L-methionine (SAMe)
  • Turmeric
  • Vitamin D

However, the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health notes there is a lack of evidence to determine if any nutritional supplements effectively treat osteoarthritis. More research is needed to confirm whether or not these nutritional supplements are effective for preventing or treating joint pain.

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.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Is joint pain a sign of a vitamin deficiency?

    It can be. Joint pain is common in people with low levels of vitamin D. Vitamin D deficiency is common in people with rheumatoid arthritis (RA). RA is an autoimmune disease that causes joint pain.

    Other signs of vitamin D deficiency include:

    • Cramps
    • Fatigue
    • Mood changes
    • Muscle pain
    • Weakness

    If you are experiencing joint pain, your doctor may test your vitamin D levels to rule out a deficiency. 

  • What can you take to lubricate your joints?

    Joint fluid, also known as synovial fluid, cushions the joints to help bones and other structures move freely. Supplements that may help to support synovial fluid production include fish oil, glucosamine and chondroitin, methionine, and collagen.

16 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Consumer Reports. The facts about joint supplements: Of the 16 products we tested, seven didn't contain all that they claimed.

  2. Salazar J, Bello L, Chávez M, Añez R, Rojas J, Bermúdez V. Glucosamine for osteoarthritis: biological effects, clinical efficacy, and safety on glucose metabolismArthritis. 2014;2014:1-13. doi:10.1155/2014/432463

  3. Jerosch J. Effects of glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate on cartilage metabolism in OA: outlook on other nutrient partners especially omega-3 fatty acidsInt J Rheumatol. 2011;2011:969012. doi:10.1155/2011/969012

  4. Scholtissen S, Bruyère O, Neuprez A, et al. Glucosamine sulphate in the treatment of knee osteoarthritis: cost-effectiveness comparison with paracetamol. Int J Clin Pract. 2010;64(6):756-62. doi:10.1111/j.1742-1241.2010.02362.x

  5. Reginster JY, Neuprez A, Lecart MP, Sarlet N, Bruyere O. Role of glucosamine in the treatment for osteoarthritisRheumatol Int. 2012;32(10):2959-67.doi:10.1007/s00296-012-2416-2

  6. Jung YK, Park HR, Cho HJ, et al. Degrading products of chondroitin sulfate can induce hypertrophy-like changes and MMP-13/ADAMTS5 production in chondrocytes. Sci Rep. 2019;9(1):15846. doi:10.1038/s41598-019-52358-4

  7. Vasiliadis HS, Tsikopoulos K. Glucosamine and chondroitin for the treatment of osteoarthritisWorld J Orthop. 2017;8(1):1-11. doi:10.5312/wjo.v8.i1.1

  8. Reginster JY, Dudler J, Blicharski T, Pavelka K. Pharmaceutical-grade Chondroitin sulfate is as effective as celecoxib and superior to placebo in symptomatic knee osteoarthritis: the ChONdroitin versus CElecoxib versus Placebo Trial (CONCEPT). Ann Rheum Dis. 2017;76(9):1537-1543. doi:10.1136/annrheumdis-2016-210860

  9. Singh JA, Noorbaloochi S, MacDonald R, Maxwell LJ. Chondroitin for osteoarthritis. Cochrane Database System Rev. 2015;1:CD005614. doi:10.1002/14651858.CD005614.pub2

  10. Butawan M, Benjamin RL, Bloomer RJ. Methylsulfonylmethane: applications and safety of a novel dietary supplement. Nutrients. 2017;9(3) doi:10.3390/nu9030290

  11. Debbi EM, Agar G, Fichman G, et al. Efficacy of methylsulfonylmethane supplementation on osteoarthritis of the knee: a randomized controlled studyBMC Complement Altern Med. 2011;11(1):50. doi:10.1186/1472-6882-11-50

  12. NIH: National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. Osteoarthritis: In depth.

  13. Arthritis Foundation. Supplements and herb guide for arthritis symptoms.

  14. Kostoglou-Athanassiou I, Athanassiou P, Lyraki A, Raftakis I, Antoniadis C. Vitamin D and rheumatoid arthritis. Ther Adv Endocrinol Metab. 2012;3(6):181–7. doi:10.1177/2042018812471070

  15. Cleveland Clinic. Vitamin D deficiency.

  16. Castrogiovanni P, Trovato FM, Loreto C, Nsir H, Szychlinska MA, Musumeci G. Nutraceutical supplements in the management and prevention of osteoarthritisInt J Mol Sci. 2016;17(12):2042. doi:10.3390/ijms17122042

By Jonathan Cluett, MD
Jonathan Cluett, MD, is board-certified in orthopedic surgery. He served as assistant team physician to Chivas USA (Major League Soccer) and the United States men's and women's national soccer teams.