Have you seen speculation in the media recently about collagen supplements as a treatment for joint pain? It sounds exciting, but is it based on hard evidence or just anecdotes? Let’s break it down.

Ligaments connect bones and as a consequence, hold our joints together. Tendons are what attach our muscles to our bones. Cartilage is the elastic tissue that sits between bones and protects your joints, facilitating movement.

Cartilage, tendons, bones, ligaments and skeletal muscles are all ‘tissues’ that consist of proteins. One of the most important and plentiful of these proteins is collagen1. Our bodies’ natural collagen production tends to decrease as we age.

The claim

The claim is that because of the importance of collagen in the building of joint cartilage, taking collagen as a nutritional supplement may help to stimulate our bodies’ production of the protein and could have anti-inflammatory effects. Sounds simple enough, but…

What does the science say?

It’s too early to call. Some placebo-controlled studies on collagen have demonstrated some relief in joint pain and stiffness and others have shown none. Studies had limited sample sizes, and so a lot more research is required to reach a consensus.2

Arthritis Research UK, one of the world’s leading authorities on cures and treatments for arthritis, sums it up thus:

Trials into collagen’s role in treating osteoarthritis give mixed results. Studies into the role of collagen in treating rheumatoid arthritis suggest that it doesn’t have a significant effect in reducing pain and joint inflammation.3

So, should you take collagen for joint pain and are there any side effects?

There are no well-known drug interactions and generally there are considered to be no major side effects from the use of collagen pills. But minor side effects include:

  • Mild diarrhoea
  • Rashes
  • A heavy feeling in the stomach

Generally the consensus seems to be that if you tolerate it well, then there’s no reason why you can’t give collagen supplements a try. But with such limited and mixed results from placebo-controlled trials, it’s wise not to get your hopes up or put all your eggs in one basket.

What else can I do to help ease my osteoarthritis or joint pain?

Through extensive placebo-controlled, peer-reviewed research, Viscosupplementation has been shown to be very effective in the treatment of joint pain and osteoarthritis symptoms. The treatment consists of an injection of fluid (hyaluronic acid) which mimics the function of healthy joint fluid. This hyaluronic acid, like collagen, is actually naturally occurring in your own joint fluid to begin with. Once injected, it lubricates and cushions your joints to alleviate pain and make movement easier again.

This injection of hyaluronic acid is particularly effective because it is localised, targeting the spot where the lubrication and cushioning is actually needed. In Viscosupplementation the substance doesn’t need to pass through your digestive system, the way other interventions associated with stomach side effects do. Indeed, Viscosupplementation has been confirmed to have far fewer and much milder associated side effects than other treatments for joint pain and osteoarthritis.

Rather than dosing up with side-effect riddled opioids that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention deems ‘risky’4, or opting for painful surgery, many in-the-know patients are choosing Viscosupplementation. It is a leading-edge, proven method for easing the symptoms of osteoarthritis.

To find out more, or to have a conversation with a pain specialist at Joint Pain Injections, call 020 7118 1771.

References

1 http://www.news-medical.net/health/What-is-Collagen.aspx

2 http://www.arthritisresearchuk.org/arthritis-information/complementary-and-alternative-medicines/cam-report/complementary-medicines-for-rheumatoid-arthritis/collagen/trials-for-oa.aspx

3 http://www.arthritisresearchuk.org/arthritis-information/complementary-and-alternative-medicines/cam-report/complementary-medicines-for-rheumatoid-arthritis/collagen.aspx

4 http://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/article-abstract/2585990