The Many Faces of Pain Management and Tissue Repair, by Joan Sarro

If you seek relief and repair from joint pain and inflammation caused by osteoarthritis, a sports injury, or a bad fall you will likely come across glucosamine, hyaluronic acid, chondroitin sulfate, and sometimes collagen. All four are components of connective tissue. To help better understand what might work best for you, let’s take a closer look at connective tissue.

Connective tissue is the most prevalent body tissue. It supports, binds, insulates, and strengthens. There are many connective-tissue types. Dense regular connective tissue forms tendons and ligaments, and part of its function is to maintain the musculoskeletal system. Dense irregular connective tissue forms joint capsules, provides strength, and also protects various organs.

 

All connective tissue is comprised of extracellular matrix, which contains ground substance and fibers, and cells such as fibroblasts that secrete matrix. Ground substance is a compound with a gel texture, and it contains hyaluronic acid, chondroitin sulfate, and glucosamine. Collagen is a matrix fiber. Along with participating in several other body functions, each does its part to help your body retain or repair matrix and, in turn, connective tissue.

Hyaluronic acid is slick and viscous. It binds cells, lubricates joints, and guides phagocytes (cells that ingest bacteria and foreign particles) to damaged tissue.

Chondroitin Sulfate has a gelatinous texture and supports and binds cartilage, bone, skin, and blood vessels. It helps cartilage maintain its shape after twisting & turning.

Glucosamine contains components that maintain and repair matrix. It has been studied in over 200 clinical trials and was found beneficial in the treatment of osteoarthritis, especially when coupled with chondroitin sulfate.

Collagen is the most prevalent protein in the body. Small collagen fibrils cozy together to help provide a sturdy framework for bone, cartilage, tendons, and ligaments. Collagen needs many nutrients, like Vitamin C, to aid in its repair.

Methylsulfonylmethane (MSM) is a sulfur compound also commonly found in arthritis, joint-repair, and pain-management formulas. Its therapeutic properties include cellular detoxification, healing injuries, and relieving pain and inflammation (including in patients with osteoarthritis).

While all of these supplements can play a role in improving your quality of life, possible reasons for joint pain and inflammation are numerous. It can be as simple as twisting your ankle after slipping on ice or more complex, such as long-term effects of unknown food allergies. It’s important that you take an active role with your health professionals to determine which treatment plan is the right one for your specific needs.

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