If you’re an American over 65, you’re in good company. Around 46 million Americans have reached their golden years. And by 2050, experts say 20 percent of us will have reached this milestone.
We’re living longer, healthier and more active lives. Which is terrific!
But with that longevity, we’re also facing some additional challenges, such as the extra wear and tear on our joints.
Experts say 50 million Americans struggle with knee pain. Ten to 13 percent of Americans 60 or over have osteoarthritis.1 And that number will only go up as we age.
If you go to your doctor about your knee pain, he’s likely to give you a prescription for celecoxib (brand name Celebrex). Unlike opiate drugs, celecoxib is non-addictive. Which is probably why it is one of the most popular prescription pain relievers.
In fact, well over 33 million Americans have walked out of their doctor’s office clutching a prescription for this popular NSAID drug.
But celecoxib has a dark side. While all drugs come with some potential side effects, in the case of celecoxib they can be devastating.
Popular pain killer sends stroke and death risk soaring
Celecoxib sends your risk for heart attack, stroke or death soaring by a stunning 37 percent. And your chance of bleeding, perforations or other upper gastrointestinal problems such as ulcers skyrockets 81 percent.2
But if you’re suffering from knee pain and don’t want to risk drug side effects it’s not all bad news. You may have another option.
A new study has confirmed that a natural supplement we’ve written about many times here at Healthier Talk may work just as well as celecoxib.
According to the research published in the journal Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases chondroitin, a substance that’s found naturally in joint cartilage, could be the key to relieving your knee pain.3
Chondroitin slashes knee pain as well as drug
You’ve probably heard of chondroitin before. The supplement—typically made from shark, pig or cow cartilage—is often paired with glucosamine.
And while chondroitin has already shown great promise when it comes to helping relieve joint pain, some studies have come back with a mixed bag of results.
But the new research leaves little doubt that this powerful supplement can effectively slash knee pain for some folks.
Belgian researchers divided 604 volunteers with arthritis of the knee into three groups.
- Group one received 200 mg of celecoxib daily
- Group two received 800 mg of chondroitin sulfate
- Group three received a placebo
The pills were identical in appearance, and it was a double blind study. So neither the volunteers, not the researchers, knew who got which pills until the end of the study.
The volunteers took a variety of tests to measure pain relief as well as to look for any improvements in function.
As expected 59 percent of the volunteers who took the drug had significant pain relief by the end of the study. But remarkably, 57 percent of those folks who took the chondroitin supplement experienced significant pain relief as well.
And the good news didn’t stop there.
Walk easier and with less pain with chondroitin
Both the drug and supplement groups also had significant improvements in their ability to walk distances and perform daily activities of living. In other words, there was very little difference between how the drug and supplement performed.
Chondroitin can deliver pain relief and give you the ability to do more of the things you love without risking the dangerous side effects. So you’re probably wondering, “what’s the catch,” right?
Well, experts say chondroitin’s spotty record in some past studies is likely due to the quality of the product used. In a 2015 study when researchers tested sixteen different chondroitin products. The amount of chondroitin sulfate in them varied from under 15 percent to over 90 percent.
So to take advantage of chondroitin’s benefits your best bet is to look for a product made by a manufacturer you trust. And, if possible, one made with “pharmaceutical grade” chondroitin, which is the type of supplement used in this study.
Also, keep in mind that chondroitin products typically take a bit longer to work than NSAIDs. Most folks don’t get instant relief. So you need to be patient and keep taking the supplement for at least six months before deciding whether, or not, it works for you.
1. “Epidemiology of Osteoarthritis,” Clin Geriatr Med., 2010 Aug; 26(3): 355–369.
2. “Vascular and upper gastrointestinal effects of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs: meta-analyses of individual participant data from randomised trials,” Lancet. 2013 Aug 31; 382(9894): 769–779.
3. “Pharmaceutical-grade Chondroitin sulfate is as effective as celecoxib and superior to placebo in symptomatic knee osteoarthritis: the ChONdroitin versus CElecoxib versus Placebo Trial (CONCEPT),” Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases, Published Online First: 22 May 2017, Volume 76, Issue 9.
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