Comparing Arthritis Pain Supplements

People with arthritis are always looking for ways to relieve arthritis pain symptoms. Many have turned to supplements that promise pain relief without relying on prescription medication.

AOL Everyday Healh recently spoke to a group of experts and rheumatologists regarding these supplements, and published an article detailing what works and what doesn't against arthritis pain. Since supplements are not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration, it's important to do research before taking them to understand what potential side effects they may have.

The first supplement mentioned by the news source was glucosamine, which has been thought to control osteoarthritis pain and protect cartilage from deteriorating. According to Everyday Health, the National Institutes of Health found that this supplement may have an effect on moderate to severe arthritis, but none on mild forms of the condition. Research conducted in Europe found glucosamine to be more effective, but this may be connected to the different way the supplement is prepared in Europe.

Chondroitin sulfate has been shown to reduce pain and inflammation and improve joint function, according to Everyday Health. The rheumatologists suggested that its full benefits are best realized when taking this supplement with something else, such as glucosamine.

One supplement that has been shown to be the most effective also carries some of the worst side effects. Rheumatologist Nathan Wei, MD, told Everyday Health that his patients have reported improvement in their osteoarthritis pain after taking S-adenosyl-L-methionine (SAM-e), a supplement made using a chemical that occurs naturally in the body that as been shown to possibly be as effective as traditional arthritis medications. SAM-e does come with side effects, however, as it may upset the stomach and cause diarrhea along with possibly interfering with anti-depressants and Parkinson's disease medications.

Finally, vitamin C and ginger were mentioned as possible pain relievers that can easily be worked into a person's diet. Wei told Everyday Health that although the exact effects of vitamin C on arthritis pain are unknown, research has found that people with insufficient levels of the vitamin in their diet are three times more likely to develop the disease. The rheumatologist also recommended adding ginger to a diet, as it has been shown to reduce inflammation in people with osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis, and is more beneficial when eaten than when taken as a supplement.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that 21 million adults have arthritis, making it the most common cause of disability in the United States. The CDC Arthritis Program aims to increase awareness about the disorder through working with state Health Departments to improve the quality of life of people with arthritis.

The National Center for Biotechnology Information reports that there are more than 100 different types of arthritis. Numerous studies have shown that reliance on pain medications is prevalent in the arthritis community, which can lead to addiction and other health issues. Finding a natural supplement to relieve pain could help curb this problem, but experts stress that no supplement should be taken without consultation with a healthcare provider to determine how it may affect an individual and how it may interact with other medications