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How Glucosamine Helps Your Joints and Connective Tissue

What is Glucosamine?

Its chemical composition is C6H13NO5. And, as the name suggests, glucosamine is composed of glucose and an amine, one of the building blocks of protein.

This sugary amine hangs out in the cartilage and connective tissue (CT), where it functions as an essential building block. Glucosamine is necessary for the maintenance and repair of joints and connective tissue. Luckily, it is naturally produced within the body.

However, our body’s ability to produce glucosamine declines as we age. After injury to joints, cartilage or spinal discs, the body may not be able to optimally heal. Add age to injury and this collective stress results in joint degeneration. Glucosamine supplementation can support cartilage and CT integrity-limiting degeneration. It may be especially important following injury, after strenuous activity, or in circumstances where cartilage or CT damage is evident.

Athletes are More Vulnerable to Knee Cartilage Damage

Athletes place a greater burden on the CT than others and as a result, require a larger amount of glucosamine. In a study of 68 athletes with knee cartilage damage, 52 of the participants were able to return to normal training after 90 days of supplementation. At the one- year follow up, all study participants had completely healed and had no evident cartilage damage. The results of glucosamine supplementation may be very effective but do not provide immediate relief from pain as it takes several weeks to achieve therapeutic results.

Glucosamine Benefits Your Joints and Connective Tissue

Research suggests that glucosamine:

  1. Encourages cartilage matrix formation.
  2. Decreases the breakdown of cartilage components.
  3. Has a significant anti-inflammatory effect.
  4. Stimulates the production of hyaluronic acid in joint fluid, which increases the shock absorbing properties of the joint and improves the quality of the synovial fluid.

Several important studies indicate that glucosamine supplementation may reverse cartilage damage. In several European countries, glucosamine supplementation is the first line of treatment for osteoarthritis-related pain and loss of mobility. When evaluated amongst other therapies, it clearly stands out because it does not have any of the negative effects of NSAIDS (eg. Ibuprofen), opiods or surgery.

In addition, glucosamine supplementation may provide significant relief as well as guard against further cartilage degeneration. In contrast, NSAIDS have been shown to inhibit, repair and accelerate degeneration of the cartilage. (Note: Diabetics should work with their doctor since glucosamine may alter insulin resistance, although research has not been conclusive.)

The Reflex team can customize a supplement program to protect your joints and aid in pain relief. Call our office at (503) 719-6783 to schedule an appointment.