The joints of the body are susceptible to damage and injury due to normal wear and tear, aging, autoimmune conditions and injury. Osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis are common conditions that affect the knee, hip, shoulder and other joints. These conditions can cause inflammation and the loss of the natural protective substances of the joints such as glucosamine and hyaluronic acid, which provide cushioning and stability during movement. These substances can be replaced with supplements to treat and improve joint pain, inflammation and stiffness. It is important to see your doctor before self-treating joint symptoms.
Glucosamine is naturally produced in the body and is a constituent of synovial fluid and cartilage, the strong connective tissue that helps to cushion and stabilize the joints. This substance is composed of proteins, or aminosugars called glycoaminoglycans. In the body, it works in conjunction with another substance called chondroitin sulfate, which helps cartilage tissue retain water to maintain joint health.
Benefits of Glucosamine
Glucosamine is commonly sold in supplement form as glucosamine sulphate to treat joint pain due to osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis and other conditions. The Mayo Clinic lists these uses to include a number of joint-related conditions such as inflammation, swelling, degeneration, sciatica and injury due to accidents. Glucosamine may also benefit individuals with joint stiffness, back pain and injury, sports injuries, as well as an inflammatory disease of the eye called uveitis, which affects the iris, the focusing muscle of the eye.
Hyaluronic acid is another lubricating compound produced naturally by the body and found in the synovial fluid of the joints. It helps to maintain the fluid's volume and viscosity for smooth, frictionless movement. Inflammatory conditions such as osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis break down hyaluronic acid, resulting in stiff and painful joints, particularly in the knee, hip and shoulder joints.
Hyaluronic Acid Uses
The University of Maryland Medical Center notes that hyaluronic acid is typically given as an injection directly into the affected joint to treat pain, inflammation and stiffness due to arthritis and injury. This form of treatment is called visco-supplementation and usually requires an injection once a week for three to five weeks before effects can be noticed. Hyaluronic acid injections do not cause side effects that are common with anti-inflammatory steroid injections and most oral pain relievers. However, it will not prevent the progression of arthritis in the joint. Hyaluronic acid is also available in oral supplement form, which may be combined with glucosamine sulphate supplements.