Condition - Glucosamine and walking may help ease the crippling pain of arthritis
According to Arthritis Research UK, a British medical research charity dedicated to curing arthritis, around eight million people in Britain are affected by osteoarthritis, with around one million taking treatment for the disease. Osteoarthritis, often described as “wear and tear” arthritis, is the most common type of arthritis and age is the single greatest risk factor for its development. Osteoarthritis is associated with damage to cartilage, the slippery material that cushions the ends of bones in a joint, eventually resulting in inflammation, pain, stiffness and loss of joint function.
Scientists from Australia have found that regular walking, combined with glucosamine sulphate supplementation, improves the symptoms of osteoarthritis. Researchers at the University of Queensland, Australia, carried out a trial involving 36 people, aged between 42 and 73 years, with mild to moderate osteoarthritis of the hip or knee. The volunteers were given glucosamine supplements to take every day for six weeks, by the end of which their pain levels had fallen by 13%. They were then asked to begin a 12-week progressive walking programme, on top of the supplementation, and given a pedometer to monitor step counts. The authors showed that volunteers who walked a minimum of 3,000 steps, at least three days per week, reported significantly less arthritis pain and significantly improved physical function. Those who walked for five days per week gained no additional benefits.
Study author Dr Heesch said that the findings ”provide preliminary evidence that osteoarthritis sufferers can benefit from a combination of glucosamine sulphate and walking 3,000 steps per day for exercise, in bouts of at least 1,500 steps each, on at least three days per week.”
Experts have long known that walking is important for people with arthritis, to keep the muscles that support the joints strong and supple, as well as helping to lift low spirits by stimulating the release of hormone-like substances, called endorphins – the body's own natural painkillers and mood elevators – into the bloodstream.
Glucosamine is needed to produce a molecule called glycosaminoglycan, a key component of joint cartilage, providing both strength and elasticity. Glucosamine is available in different forms, including glucosamine sulphate (the form used in this study) and glucosamine hydrochloride. Both forms are bioavailable. Glucosamine hydrochloride is a purer, more stable and more cost-effective form of glucosamine, because it contains more glucosamine, gram-for-gram than glucosamine sulphate. Glucosamine sulphate actually becomes glucosamine hydrochloride when it mixes with the acid found in our stomach.
Ng NT, Heesch KC, and Brown WJ. Efficacy of a progressive walking program and glucosamine sulphate supplementation on osteoarthritic symptoms of the hip and knee: a feasibility trial. Arthritis Res Ther 2010;12:R25.