Running, jumping, bending, lifting, grabbing and so many things we do depend on healthy joints. Deteriorating joints can impact every area of our lives. Even daily tasks may cause pain and swelling.
This article explores ways we can keep our joints healthy and protected for an active, pain-free life.
What breaks down joints?
Over time, normal activities wear down our joints’ components. This includes cartilage, tendons, ligaments, synovium (a bubble-like structure surrounding many joints), meniscus (rubbery cartilage in the knee), and bone.
With this wear and tear, you may notice swelling, pain, stiffness, or loss of flexibility and range of motion. The breakdown of joint tissues is exacerbated by several factors including:
- Aging; use over time
- Injuries or surgery on the joint
- Lack of habitual physical activity
- High-impact activities and sports
- Overuse, such as repetitive motion
- Obesity, which puts extra stress on joints
What happens as our joints wear?
Inside a joint, cartilage cushions the ends of bones, and the synovium surrounds the joint, producing a gel-like fluid of water and proteoglycan molecules that keep the cartilage healthy.
Cartilage consists of a ground substance called chondroitin sulfate and specialized cells called chondrocytes that produce a matrix of collagen, proteoglycans (a type of protein), and other proteins. Proteoglycans weave through the network of collagen, attracting and holding water. They keep the joint lubricated and help it withstand pressure. Without them, cartilage would lose elasticity and joints would struggle to bear weight.
When joints wear, the synovium can become thickened and inflamed or too thin. Either way, it cannot protect the joint. As cartilage deteriorates and bones don’t have enough cushioning, bones start rubbing against each other, causing swelling, pain and loss of mobility.
How can we support and strengthen our joints?
A healthy lifestyle, nourishing your joints’ internal building blocks, and treating injuries immediately can help keep joints healthy. Recommendations for joint health include:
- Getting 150 minutes of moderate exercise every week. Low-impact exercises like walking or swimming are ideal if you have pain or swelling in your ankles, knees, or hips.
- Eating healthy to manage your weight, cholesterol, and blood sugar.
- Resting & icing joints after injury or anytime they swell and hurt.
- Seeking medical attention quickly if you have a major injury.
- Asking your doctor about physical or occupational therapy.
- Supplementing with glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate.
How do glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate help our joints?
Glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate are building blocks for proteoglycans, the molecules responsible for joints’ elasticity and ability to withstand pressure. They both protect chondrocytes, the cells that help maintain cartilage structure.
Can you get glucosamine and chondroitin from food?
Unfortunately, glucosamine comes from shellfish shells of shrimp, crab, and lobster, not edible foods. Chondroitin is found in shark and cattle cartilage, not things we eat.
How do I get more glucosamine and chondroitin?
A supplement like ENDUR-FLEX® provides both glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate. Because it features our innovative sustained-release technology, you get a steady stream of glucosamine and chondroitin for hours of protection and healing. It isn’t derived from shellfish, so it’s safe for people with shellfish allergies.
How do glucosamine and chondroitin work in the body?
Glucosamine and chondroitin nourish the body’s production of proteoglycans which protect the joint, slow the disintegration of cartilage, and reduce pain and swelling. They can also help repair and rebuild cartilage – unless damage is too severe.
Cartilage has limited ability to heal itself, so it’s crucial that we prevent degeneration. It also heals very slowly, so the full effects of glucosamine and chondroitin supplementation can take four weeks to six months. If you still have pain, swelling, or los of mobility after six months of supplementation, please talk to your doctor about other options.