Whether it is a pulled hamstring from a spirited game of softball or degenerative changes that occur with aging, chances are you will experience muscle or joint pain at some point in your life. Muscle pain, or myalgia, affects not only muscles but also ligaments, tendons and the connective soft tissue surrounding these structures, accordig to the University of Maryland Medical Center, or UMMC.
If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, seek emergency treatment immediately.
Arthralgia is the term used to describe pain, inflammation and stiffness in ligaments, tendons and joints.
As the majority of muscles are attached at the point of a joint articulation, the two types of pain frequently merge and become indistinguishable.
Ideally, this pain is a temporary annoyance that resolves quickly with conservative treatment. For some though, it is a chronic and at-times debilitating problem that sends people to their health care providers seeking relief.
Definitions of Natural Supplements
The term "natural" supplement is often used interchangeably with the terms "herbal" supplement, and "dietary" supplement 2. In 1994, Congress enacted the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act, defining dietary supplements as products taken by mouth that contain ingredients intended to supplement the diet 3.
The American College of Rheumatology defines natural supplements as plant extracts and chemicals whose actions are unknown. There are a number of natural supplements that have shown promise for relieving pain, inflammation and immobility in joints and muscles.
Glucosamine and Chondroitin
The Proper Dosage of Glucosamine MSM
Glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate are naturally occurring substances in the body. They have undergone extensive scientific review, both separately and in combination.They are also widely used by veterinarians to treat joint immobility and stiffness in dogs, cats, and horses. Glucosamine and chondrotin are thought to be directly involved in the production and maintenance of cartilage.
Glucosamine is a form of glucose purported to build and maintain cartilage, tendons and other connective tissues in the body by acting as a building block for these materials and by inhibiting enzymes that destroy cartilage. It is also thought to preserve joint lubrication, a major cause of joint pain and stiffness.
Chondroitin likewise facilitates movement of fluid into joint spaces, providing a cushion against friction, inflammation and pain. Either supplement can be taken on its own, however, many choose to take the two in combination in order to optimize the benefits. Commonly reported side effects of glucosamine and chondroitin are diarrhea, constipation, heartburn and nausea.
- Glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate are naturally occurring substances in the body.
- Glucosamine and chondrotin are thought to be directly involved in the production and maintenance of cartilage.
Methylsulfonylmethane or MSM, is a also a naturally occurring compound found in the body. Sulphur is also necessary for making collagen, the primary constituent of cartilage and other types of connective tissue. MSM is present in many food groups including fruits, vegetables and grains. Natural levels of MSM tend to drop off as people age, leading to loss of muscle flexibility and joint stiffness. MSM's claim to fame is its analgesic and anti-inflammatory effects. It is a favorite among athletes for muscle cramps and connective tissue repair.
There are a number of products available combining MSM, with glucosamine and chondroitin, yet there is a dearth of current research addressing the true effectiveness of MSM. Nausea is a commonly reported side effect of MSM.
- Methylsulfonylmethane or MSM, is a also a naturally occurring compound found in the body.
- There are a number of products available combining MSM, with glucosamine and chondroitin, yet there is a dearth of current research addressing the true effectiveness of MSM.
Side Effects of Serotonin Supplements
SAMe, or S- adenosylmethionine, is a biochemical substance found in all living cells of humans, animals and plants. It is sold as a prescription drug in Europe where it has been used for years as a treatment for depression and osteoarthritis. SAMe facilitates a number of important biological reactions and serves as a precursor of some essential amino acids.
Studies demonstrate that this substance has had positive effects on reducing swelling, stiffness and joint pain. The Agency for Health Care Research and Quality concluded that SAMe was more effective than a placebo for relief of the pain and inflammation of osteoarthritis.
SAMe has also been found to help with the pain and immobility associated with fibromyalgia.
This supplement is expensive, compared to other natural supplements, and adverse drug interactions have been reported.
SAMe is contraindicated for patients undergoing treatment for Parkinson's Disease. Use SAMe with caution if you are taking antidepressants, as extreme agitation and increased anxiety have been reported, along with gastrointestinal upsets.
- SAMe, or S- adenosylmethionine, is a biochemical substance found in all living cells of humans, animals and plants.
- The Agency for Health Care Research and Quality concluded that SAMe was more effective than a placebo for relief of the pain and inflammation of osteoarthritis.
In recent years, consumer use of natural supplements has skyrocketed. The Government Accountability Office, or GAO, reported that in 2007, sales of natural supplements exceeded $23 billion. Because of this, a new bill is under review in Congress that, if passed, would give the FDA increased authority to regulate the sale of natural supplements and to investigate their safety. If you are contemplating the use of natural supplements, do your homework. Purchase these products only from reputable manufacturers. Do not exceed recommended doses, and read label warnings carefully. Finally, treat all natural supplements as if they were drugs, and report your use of natural supplements to your health care providers when giving information for medical histories.
- In recent years, consumer use of natural supplements has skyrocketed.
- Finally, treat all natural supplements as if they were drugs, and report your use of natural supplements to your health care providers when giving information for medical histories.
The Proper Dosage of Glucosamine MSM
Side Effects of Serotonin Supplements
Side Effects of SAM-e Supplement
MSM & Weight Loss
Natural Supplements for Joint & Back Pain
What Is the Difference Between Glucosamine & Chondroitin?
Side Effects of Glucosamine Chondroitin on the Liver
Benefits & Side Effects of HMB
The Best Supplements for Joint Health
The Scoop on Supplement Safety and Regulations
- Herbal Remedies, Supplements and Acupuncture for Arthritis
- Risk of Concurrent Use of Prescription Drugs with Herbal and Dietary Supplements in Ambulatory Care
- Report to Congressional Requesters - Dietary Supplements
- Consumer Reports. The facts about joint supplements: Of the 16 products we tested, seven didn't contain all that they claimed. October 2013.
- Salazar J, Bello L, Chávez M, Añez R, Rojas J, Bermúdez V. Glucosamine for osteoarthritis: biological effects, clinical efficacy, and safety on glucose metabolism. Arthritis. 2014;2014:1-13. doi:10.1155/2014/432463
- Jerosch J. Effects of glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate on cartilage metabolism in OA: outlook on other nutrient partners especially omega-3 fatty acids. Int J Rheumatol. 2011;2011:969012. doi:10.1155/2011/969012
- Scholtissen S, Bruyère O, Neuprez A, et al. Glucosamine sulphate in the treatment of knee osteoarthritis: cost-effectiveness comparison with paracetamol. Int J Clin Pract. 2010;64(6):756-62. doi:10.1111/j.1742-1241.2010.02362.x
- Reginster JY, Neuprez A, Lecart MP, Sarlet N, Bruyere O. Role of glucosamine in the treatment for osteoarthritis. Rheumatol Int. 2012;32(10):2959-67.doi:10.1007/s00296-012-2416-2
- Jung YK, Park HR, Cho HJ, et al. Degrading products of chondroitin sulfate can induce hypertrophy-like changes and MMP-13/ADAMTS5 production in chondrocytes. Sci Rep. 2019;9(1):15846. doi:10.1038/s41598-019-52358-4
- Vasiliadis HS, Tsikopoulos K. Glucosamine and chondroitin for the treatment of osteoarthritis. World J Orthop. 2017;8(1):1-11. doi:10.5312/wjo.v8.i1.1
- Reginster JY, Dudler J, Blicharski T, Pavelka K. 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). Ann Rheum Dis. 2017;76(9):1537-1543. doi:10.1136/annrheumdis-2016-210860
- Singh JA, Noorbaloochi S, MacDonald R, Maxwell LJ. Chondroitin for osteoarthritis. Cochrane Database System Rev. 2015;1:CD005614. doi:10.1002/14651858.CD005614.pub2
- Butawan M, Benjamin RL, Bloomer RJ. Methylsulfonylmethane: applications and safety of a novel dietary supplement. Nutrients. 2017;9(3) doi:10.3390/nu9030290
- Debbi EM, Agar G, Fichman G, et al. Efficacy of methylsulfonylmethane supplementation on osteoarthritis of the knee: a randomized controlled study. BMC Complement Altern Med. 2011;11(1):50. doi:10.1186/1472-6882-11-50
- Arthritis Foundation. Supplements and herb guide for arthritis symptoms. 2020.
A native Texan, Luci Coffey began writing for LIVESTRONG.COM in 2010. She is a registered nurse and has over thirty years experience in the health care industry. Coffey holds a Master of Science in nursing from the University of Texas and is nationally certified as an expert in health care quality.