Americans Spend Millions Each Year in Attempt to Naturally Relieve Joint Pain

National studies still inconclusive as to whether the money is well-spent

DAYTON, Ohio (June 8, 2015) – Aging, injury and obesity are fueling the growing incidences of joint pain in the United States. Osteoarthritis, the most common joint disease, affects 27 million Americans, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Most forms of joint pain such as osteoarthritis can take a significant toll on a person’s body – limiting their mobility and, in turn, chipping away at their quality of life. For that reason, it’s understandable that joint pain sufferers would consider the use of supplements that claim to deliver relief and slow any further damage to the joints. However, orthopedic surgeon Michael Raab, MD, said it is vital that patients understand supplements and set realistic expectations before trying them.

“There have yet to be any tests that show the use of supplements are effective in treating joint pain,” said Dr. Raab, who practices with Premier Orthopedics. “However, many practitioners will tell patients to go ahead and try them if it is safe for them.”

There are several supplements that claim to help joint pain. The two that are most well-known are glucosamine sulfate and chondroitin. Both are naturally occurring substances found in the human body, particularly around the joints. Glucosamine sulfate is found in the fluid and chondroitin in the tissue.

Americans spent $753 million in 2012 on glucosamine and chondroitin in an attempt to relieve arthritis symptoms, according to the Nutrition Business Journal. However, no studies have been conclusive as to whether they deliver real relief. The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS) does not endorse the use of supplements, but does not advise against it.

Those who want to give supplements a try can follow these steps outlined by the AAOS:

Talk to your doctor – Patients may be hesitant to discuss their use of supplements with medical providers out of fear that they will not support it, the AAOS said. However, Dr. Raab says many physicians are open to complementary treatments. A doctor can help a patient understand if the supplement is safe for them to take. Diabetics, pregnant women, and those with certain allergies should use caution.

Continue other therapies – Supplements should remain what their name suggests: a supplement, and not a replacement to other medications and therapy. Patients who decide to give supplements a try for joint pain relief should do so along with their other prescribed therapies. This may include medication, exercise and diet. It will take several months before the benefits of supplements will be realized if at all.

“I would say if you don’t see much difference after three months, then you have probably reached the point where you won’t see any improvement,” Dr. Raab said. “If symptoms are not changing by that time then one can assume that (the supplement) won’t make that much of a difference to their health situation.”

Conduct your own research – Gather as much information about the supplement you wish to try and use it to make an educated decision. Keep in mind whether the supplement will interact with any current medications or if it has any side effects. Reputable health care groups such as the National Institutes of Health have published studies and information about glucosamine, in particular. Visit its website to learn more.

Purchase from a reputable supplier – Consumers need to remember that these products are not regulated. Products may be labeled “standardized,” for example, but that only means it has passed standards set internally by the manufacturer, the AAOS said. Dr. Raab suggests patients buy supplements made by a name they are familiar with or that has a good reputation for quality.

For more information on joint supplements or to find a Premier Health Specialists physician near you, visit

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