Food Supplements for Joint Problems

Food supplements help prevent and delay the onset and pain caused by joint problems. Their helpful effects can reduce the need for painkillers.
Food Supplements for Joint Problems

Last update: 30 March, 2021

Food supplements can improve ailments such as osteoarthritis, one of the most common degenerative joint problems. The main characteristic of this condition is a deterioration of the cartilage and inflammation of the synovial membrane. Not surprisingly, treatments with food supplements came on top in some studies conducted to mitigate the pain.

It may come as a surprise for some but a good lifestyle and proper nutrition can help delay the onset of joint problems and slow their progression. For this reason, it’s important to take into account the risk factors one can prevent, modify, modulate or treat.

The main symptom is pain that worsens when using the joint and exerting pressure on it as the day progresses. Furthermore, other symptoms might be:

  • Stiffness after rest
  • Crunching of the joint with motion
  • Deformity
  • Swelling or leakage of synovial fluid

Muscle atrophy and muscle contractures may also occur. Pinched nerves are frequent in the case of osteoarthritis of the spine and might result in pain radiating to the arms or legs.

Pharmacological treatment for joint problems

The treatment of osteoarthritis mainly aims to relieve pain although some drugs can slow down cartilage degeneration. A patient in advanced stages of this condition may require surgery.

Oral therapy includes food supplements and drugs

Some used for pain relief include:

  • Fast-acting analgesics such as paracetamol, NSAIDs, opioids, or corticosteroids
  • Also, slow-acting drugs or long-acting drugs like chondroitin sulfate, glucosamine sulfate, diacerein, and hyaluronic acid

Intra-articular treatment

The most commonly used drugs in intra-articular techniques are hyaluronic acid, platelet-rich plasma, and delayed-acting corticosteroids.

Topical route

The topical use of ointments, creams, liniments, and gels with NSAIDs, revulsive vegetable substances, chondroitin sulfate and hyaluronic acid, thermal patches, or cold/heat techniques can be a complementary treatment for pain.


This procedure includes conservative surgery and prosthetic replacement techniques.

A person in pain.

Food supplements as a treatment for joint problems

Collagen and hyaluronic acid

People can use these individually or in combination.

In fact, collagen and hyaluronic acid can combine with smaller doses of glucosamine, chondroitin sulfate, or vitamins and minerals in some cases. These types of food supplements help prevent and delay the deterioration of cartilage due to their structural and protective action. Studies reveal that their beneficial effect can reduce the need for NSAIDs.

Phytotherapy alone or in combination with any of the above is also useful for the treatment of mild and moderate symptoms such as pain and/or inflammation. Further, the main plants to use are those with analgesic and anti-inflammatory action like:

  • Boswellia
  • Turmeric
  • Harpagofito
  • Ginger
  • Willow
  • Meadowsweet
  • Vitamins and nutrients

One can include vitamins and minerals within the group of food supplements for joint problems. Both nutrients are involved in the synthesis of collagen. In fact, vitamins such as C, D, and E and minerals such as magnesium, silicon, and sulfur are part of various processes of cartilage metabolism.

Vitamin C stimulates the production of collagen and glycosaminoglycans. However, vitamin D participates in the synthesis of proteoglycans, and vitamin E improves the protection of the cartilage matrix by increasing the growth of chondrocytes.

Furthermore, the B complex comprised of vitamins B1, B6, and B12 enhances the effect of analgesics such as paracetamol and anti-inflammatory drugs.

Among the minerals, magnesium is part of cell membranes and bone structure. You must balance it with calcium, as an imbalance inhibits vitamin D synthesis. Also, silicon participates in the synthesis of elastin and collagen. You may not know it but sulfur is part of collagen, an element that forms tendons, cartilage, and ligaments.

Food supplements, hygiene, and prevention measures for joint problems

Various types of pain in the joints.

It’s important to establish general preventive measures in people who present slight discomfort or risk factors for the development of joint problems. Among these measures we find:

  • A balanced diet, and therefore an adequate weight
  • Also, consume food rich in collagen and mucopolysaccharides
  • In addition, exercise regularly, avoiding activity that impacts the joints
  • Also, don’t force postures and avoid maintaining the same for a long time
  • Apply heat in chronic situations and cold in acute ones
  • Finally, use food supplements based on cartilage nutrients or phytotherapy to relieve discomfort


Oral food supplements of collagen and hyaluronic acid alone or in combination with each other are only useful in the prevention and mild to moderate phases of joint problems. To conclude, it’s important to consult a specialist for advice on the substances that would be most useful in your particular case.

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