We would like to say, “Yes, the supplements always work and relieve pain.” But the best we can say is, “They work for some people, some of the time..”

Major studies show they may work slightly better than placebo for people who have knee pain caused by osteoarthritis.

If you decide to try glucosamine and chondroitin on your own, talk to your healthcare provider to make sure there is no danger of interactions with your other medications.

What is glucosamine?

Glucosamine sulfate is a chemical found naturally in the fluid that surrounds your joints. Some scientists believe glucosamine:

  • increases the strength of the cartilage
  • thickens the synovial fluid
  • improves the elasticity to your connective tissues.

Using a supplement to support the surrounding structures of the joint may help provide pain relief and prevent further joint damage. Glucosamine supplements may provide relief for osteoarthritis pain.

There are two main categories of glucosamine supplements. One contains ingredients naturally derived from shellfish. The other uses synthetic ingredients created in a laboratory.

If you decide to take glucosamine supplements, be aware, there may be some side effects for people who suffer from diabetes and high blood pressure. There is evidence that glucosamine raised blood sugar and cholesterol levels.

What is chondroitin?

Chondroitin sulfate also occurs naturally in the cartilage that cushions your joints and prevents bone-on-bone friction during movement.

Joint supplements often combine chondroitin with glucosamine and other chemicals to slow the breakdown of cartilage. Studies show chondroitin slow the development of cataracts and prevent urinary tract infections.

There are a few precautions to consider.

If you have a preexisting condition such as asthma or hemophilia, or if you have a family history of prostate cancer, avoid using chondroitin. Adding a chondroitin supplement may make your situation worse.

Another factor to consider is the source of your chondroitin supplement. Since chondroitin is made from animal products, you need to purchase a brand that has a reputation for using high-quality ingredients.

Talk to your healthcare provider before taking a chondroitin supplement. He or she will also be able to recommend the best brand and discuss possible interactions with your other medications.

Checking for medication conflicts is especially crucial if you’re taking Coumadin or are undergoing cancer treatments.

If you are approved to take chondroitin and glucosamine, and it works, it’s one more way you can care for your joints and relieve the pain and stiffness.

Source: U.S. National Library of Medicine: MedlinePlus