I am not yet 40 years old, but I have already started to notice some creaking in my joints, particularly in a shoulder I injured years ago. So I was not surprised to read that by age forty, 90% of people are already showing signs of osteoarthritic joint changes on x-rays even if they are not experiencing pain. Normally, the body uses an enzyme to make glucosamine, a major building block of joint cartilage, but as we age this enzyme might become less active. Then the rate of joint rebuilding might not keep up with the rate of cartilage breakdown, and when cartilage breaks down, we can experience arthritis pain from the lack of proper cushion between our bones. Many people use pain relievers like ibuprofen for this pain, but these NSAIDs (Nonsteroidal Anti-inflammatory Drugs) actually tend to inhibit cartilage-repairing enzymes and might be speeding up the deterioration of joints when used regularl
Fortunately, there are alternative that can help ease pain without having these possible side effects. Glucosamine is one of the best selling supplements in the United States, and it has the scientific studies behind it to validate this popularity. When compared to ibuprofen in studies, the patients on ibuprofen get faster results, but by four weeks the patient take glucosamine have better pain control than those on ibuprofen. Glucosamine sulfate is considered to be the best form of glucosamine. It has excellent absorption, and the sulfur also benefits the joints by helping to stabilize the connective tissue matrix of cartilage. Sulfur also may inhibit enzymes that lead to cartilage destruction in arthritis. Another sulfur containing supplement is MSM, which stands for methylsulfonylmethane. In addition to being a sulfur source, MSM has anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant properties that can help reduce joint pain. Some glucosamine blends also contain chondroitin sulfate, a large complex molecule made from glucosamine. There are some good studies on the use of chondroitin for arthritis pain, but chondroitin has poor absorption compared to glucosamine and might only be absorbed after it is broken down to glucosamine.