Joint Supplements: Everything You Need to Know

Reviewed by Lamia A Kader, MD
Old couple in front of a flower shop

Joint supplements are one of the best alternatives to standard drugs used for chronic joint pain. Joints are prone to degenerative changes, and millions of people around the world suffer from chronic joint pain. Once the diagnosis of the joint disease becomes obvious, multiple strategies present our weaponry in the fight against the joint disease.

It’s in our human nature that we don’t think much about our health when symptoms are not there. We would be tolerant of our obesity or unhealthy diet until the moment the problems arise. Our attitude toward our joints is not an exception, and everything is fine while they function correctly. Unfortunately, these almost-perfect anatomical structures are not composed of steel.

Who Takes Joint Supplements?

The fact that around 62.5% of adult individuals who suffer from arthritis take dietary joint supplements compared with 49.0 % of those without arthritis is pretty indicative (1).

Frequently used non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are effective in decreasing arthritic pain but are also associated with well-known side effects. The majority of sufferers want to avoid opioids and intra-articular injections. There are many substances included in the group of joint supplements that give pretty good results in decreasing joint pain. Moreover, major joint supplements are exceptionally safe.

What Are the Different Types of Joint Supplements?

The list of joint supplements investigated in scientific studies is quite long (2). Next to the main representatives, glucosamine and chondroitin, these substances also represent ways to treat joint pain:

  • Boswellia serrata extract
  • Curcuma longa extract
  • Curcumin
  • Methylsulfonylmethane (MSM)
  • Collagen hydrolysate
  • Undenatured type II collagen
  • Passion fruit peel extract 
  • L-carnitine
  • Avocado soybean unsaponifiables (ASU)
  • Diacerein

All of the above-mentioned joint supplements show analgesic activity in osteoarthritis (2). Different studies reveal different results for the same compound. Nonetheless, there are many supportive studies related to joint supplements that represent the fact that can’t be overlooked. These substances provide help to many people suffering from chronic joint pain.

Note: This article will focus on the benefits of both glucosamine and chondroitin for joint health.

Glucosamine is one of the most frequently used joint supplements for knee pain

What is Glucosamine Joint Supplement?

Glucosamine is one of the most frequently used joint supplements.

Chemically, it’s an amino sugar. This compound has an essential role in the production and maintenance of cartilage. When used as a supplement, the precise mode of its analgesic and cartilage-sparing action at the molecular level is not entirely known. It probably works on decreasing the production of proinflammatory mediators that harm cartilage composition (3). 

Supportive findings from randomized controlled trials undoubtedly increased the popularity of glucosamine. For example, the study published in the prestigious scientific journal “Lancet” in 2001 revealed that glucosamine has an impact on the preservation of the joint structure, not just on symptoms in patients with osteoarthritis (4).

And What Do You Need to Know About Chondroitin?

Chondroitin is an organic compound with an essential role in the formation of cartilage.

It belongs to the group of glycosaminoglycans. As an over-the-counter supplement, it mainly comes in the form of chondroitin sulfate. Chondroitin supplementation has been used in the treatment of degenerative joint diseases for a long time.

It is associated with the possible impact on the prevention of cartilage degradation and the stimulation of synthesis processes within the cartilaginous tissue (5). This joint supplement has anti-inflammatory activity and leads to the improvement of osteoarthritis symptoms (6). In osteoarthritic joints with radiologically verified changes, chondroitin has the potential to slows-down the narrowing of joint space, i.e., to preserve the cartilage (7).

Do Glucosamine and Chondroitin Relieve the Osteoarthritis Pain?

Osteoarthritis is a highly prevalent disease. It is estimated that around 10% of men and 18% of women over 60 years of age have the disorder. The prediction is that these percentages would be even higher (8). The development of structural changes within joints eventually result in chronic pain, joint stiffness, decreased mobility and deteriorated quality of life. Osteoarthritis mainly affects the knee, hip, and small hand joints. The most popular joint supplements for osteoarthritis, glucosamine, and chondroitin, aim to prevent further degradation of cartilage and improve symptoms.

The results of scientific studies reveal very different conclusions about the effectiveness of glucosamine and chondroitin. Nevertheless, numerous studies support the claim that these two supplements are effective in the management of osteoarthritis.

Some Studies on the Effectiveness of Glucosamine

Japanese scientists, who published results of systematic review and meta-analysis in the journal “Clinical Rheumatology” in 2018, concluded that glucosamine has the potential to alleviate knee osteoarthritis pain (9). Another systematic review and meta-analysis from 2018 also announced a positive glucosamine effect in reducing osteoarthritis pain (10). The positive role of chondroitin in the management of osteoarthritic pain is also confirmed in the same way, through a systematic review and meta-analysis of joint supplements (11).

Intelligent Labs Glucosamine joint supplement is specifically designed to firstly stop inflammation and then give your body the exact formula of glycosaminoglycans and collagen needed to rebuild joints, reduce pain, and increase movement.

Related article: Gout vs Osteoarthritis: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment Options

What Is the Recommended Glucosamine Dose?

The dose of glucosamine sulfate used in the majority of trials is 1500 mg per day. In some scientific papers, the dosage mentioned above is explicitly designated as the recommended one (12).

It has been noted that taking more small doses throughout the day for the management of osteoarthritis pain (e.g., 500 mg three times daily) is more effective than the complete daily dose of 1500 mg taken at once (10).

On the contrary, the dosage of chondroitin sulfate joint supplements in different trials varies greatly. The dosage between 800 and 1200 mg/d had been typically recommended for the treatment of knee osteoarthritis (13). However, recently, it was reported that consumption of chondroitin sulfate (180 mg/day) for 12 weeks or longer has positive effect knee functions and household physical activity in middle-aged and older adults with knee pain (14). 

Joint supplements are mostly safe which is very important for those who run or exercise regularly

Are Joint Supplements Safe?

Numerous studies accentuate excellent safety properties of joint supplements, including glucosamine and chondroitin. 

One of the scientific articles that evaluated the effects of combined use of glucosamine and chondroitin in the treatment of osteoarthritis revealed that these supplements are safe and do not produce adverse events (15). Safety characteristics of joint supplements are compared with those of placebo (16). These safety qualities are particularly important if we have in mind that other drugs used for the symptomatic relief of chronic joint pain are associated with severe side effects (e.g., NSAIDs).

Who Should Be Taking a Glucosamine Joint Supplement?

Joint supplements represent an important treatment modality in the management of osteoarthritis. People at high risk of osteoarthritis should use them as a way of prevention (17). 

In those already affected by osteoarthritis, a glucosamine joint supplement should be used to delay the progression of the disease and to improve symptoms. 

Many factors could cause joint degeneration, and its treatment is not a simple one. Many measures, such as decreasing the weight in obese persons affected by osteoarthritis, give excellent results. Selected exercises, physical therapy, and conventional analgesics all have their important role in the management of osteoarthritis symptoms.


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2. Liu X, Machado GC, Eyles JP, et al. Dietary supplements for treating osteoarthritis: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Br J Sports Med. 2018;52(3):167-175.

3. Phitak T, Pothacharoen P, Kongtawelert P. Comparison of glucose derivatives effects on cartilage degradation. BMC Musculoskelet Disord. 2010;11:162

4. Reginster JY, Deroisy R, Rovati LC, et al. Long-term effects of glucosamine sulphate on osteoarthritis progression: a randomised, placebo-controlled clinical trial. Lancet. 2001;357(9252):251-256.

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11. Knapik JJ, Pope R, Hoedebecke SS, Schram B, Orr R. Effects of Oral Chondroitin Sulfate on Osteoarthritis-Related Pain and Joint Structural Changes: Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. J Spec Oper Med. 2019;19(1):113-124.

12. Hsu CH, Hsu NC, Shih CL, Huang HT, Chen CH, Chou PH. Medication-Taking Habit and Outcome of Glucosamine Sulfate for Osteoarthritis Patients Influenced by National Health Insurance Regulations in Taiwan. J Clin Med. 2019; 8(10):pii: E1734.

13. Morita M, Yamada K, Date H, Hayakawa K, Sakurai H, Yamada H. Efficacy of Chondroitin Sulfate for Painful Knee Osteoarthritis: A One-Year, Randomized, Double-Blind, Multicenter Clinical Study in Japan. Biol. Pharm. Bull. 2018;1:163–171.

14. Tsuji T, Yoon J, Kitano N, Okura T, Tanaka K. Effects of N-acetyl glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate supplementation on knee pain and self-reported knee function in middle-aged and older Japanese adults: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. Aging Clin. Exp. Res.,28, 197–205 (2016)

15. Bottegoni C, Muzzarelli RA, Giovannini F, Busilacchi A, Gigante A. Oral chondroprotection with nutraceuticals made of chondroitin sulphate plus glucosamine sulphate in osteoarthritis. Carbohydr Polym. 2014;109:126-138.

16. Vangsness CT Jr, Spiker W, Erickson J. A review of evidence-based medicine for glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate use in knee osteoarthritis. Arthroscopy. 2009;25(1):86-94.

17. Gallagher B, Tjoumakaris FP, Harwood MI, Good RP, Ciccotti MG, Freedman KB. Chondroprotection and the prevention of osteoarthritis progression of the knee: a systematic review of treatment agents. Am J Sports Med.2015;43(3):734-744.