Chondroitin For Knee Pain | How It Works, Dosage, Risks, And More!

Written By on April 18, 2022 — Medically Reviewed By Mich Torres (PT)

Some people feel relief after taking chondroitin for knee pain.

This makes sense, in theory – chondroitin is a natural substance present in our joints. Taking it as a supplement may help keep our knees healthy.

Below, we’ll discuss what’s known so far about the benefits of chondroitin for knee joint pain. You’ll also learn how to maximize them.

Here’s what we’ll cover – click on any of the bullet points to easily navigate through the article:

How does chondroitin help knee joint pain?

Someone grabbing their knee in pain

The stability of the knee joint depends on the bones, cartilage, and fluid surrounding it. The cartilage provides cushion-like support, and the fluid provides lubrication.

Now, in some joint diseases like knee osteoarthritis, the cartilage has deteriorated. This can be due to daily wear and tear or other diseases.

But, studies show that taking chondroitin sulfate may help reduce knee pain and improve your overall knee function. (1)

It can also minimize joint space narrowing, a key feature in knee osteoarthritis.

The joint space is a small gap between two bones. The cartilage cushions this space, and the synovial fluid floats within, lubricating the joint.

In knee osteoarthritis, the joint space gets narrower as the cartilage degenerates. This decrease in space can cause pain and limit mobility.

But, some studies show that taking chondroitin for 2 years can decline the rate of joint space narrowing. (2) This in turn may slow down the cartilage degeneration process.



Related: Our complete guide to knee osteoarthritis – causes, symptoms, treatments, and more

Chondroitin can also reduce your use of painkillers.

Severe knee osteoarthritis symptoms may need painkillers, such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs or opioids.

The problem with these drugs is that they come with a high risk of adverse effects, like a peptic ulcer.

However, chondroitin and other dietary supplements may be a safe alternative to painkillers, because they have minimum side effects. (3)

Chondroitin alone or with glucosamine: What’s best?

Taking chondroitin alone can be beneficial in the long term to reduce knee pain. (4) But it may be best to combine it with glucosamine.

Glucosamine combined with chondroitin could provide better results.

See, both glucosamine and chondroitin are naturally present in the knee joints – they are the building blocks of cartilage.

So, taking only chondroitin supplements can replenish this particular component to maintain cartilage structure.

But by taking glucosamine (hydrochloride or sulfate) with chondroitin, you’ll replenish both. This can ensure your body gets all that it needs to keep your cartilage healthy, and/or regenerate its damage.

In fact, studies show that combining both improves knee pain and joint function in osteoarthritis. (4)

Who should take chondroitin supplements?

Some people feel moderate to severe pain in the knees due to cartilage degradation. Taking chondroitin supplements could benefit in this situation, particularly for people with:

Knee osteoarthritis

This condition can result in debilitating knee pain, but chondroitin supplements have shown to provide relief. (2)

Fun fact: Chondroitin is one of the most popular supplements to treat knee osteoarthritis, second to glucosamine. (2)

Rheumatoid arthritis

The inflammation that characterizes this condition is the top cause of joint degradation. However, taking chondroitin can reduce it. (5)

Dosage of chondroitin supplements for knee pain

1000 to 2000 mg/day of chondroitin can reduce pain and improve functional status. (1)

The benefit of chondroitin supplements tends to reach a peak at 3 months of supplementation. You could keep this positive effect by continuing to take the supplement for the next 4 to 12 months. (1)


Knee Force Knee Sleeve

Risks and side effects of chondroitin

Chondroitin has a higher safety profile than other treatments for knee pain. But in rare cases, some side effects may occur such as (6, 7):

  • Stomach issues like nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and constipation.
  • Allergic reactions such as rashes in people with shellfish allergies.
  • Can affect blood sugar levels, which can be a problem for diabetics.
  • Increases the tendency to bleed in people on anticoagulants.

Diabetics, people on anticoagulants, or those with shellfish allergies should be cautious before taking chondroitin. Or consult with their physician first before starting the supplements on their own.

Other supplements for knee pain

Taking chondroitin can help keep healthy connective tissue and relieve knee pain. But, combining it with other supplements can add to its benefits, such as:

However, taking all of these supplements at the same time is not advisable, or essential. We suggest combining chondroitin with glucosamine or with turmeric for a few weeks to see how your body responds to it.

See which combination helps you the most, and continue taking it for 4 to 12 months. If you experience any unwanted side effects, take a break and consult an expert first.

Other therapies for joint pain

Elderly patient receiving physical therapy for their knee

In addition to supplements, other therapies can also be tried for knee pain relief such as:

  • Physical activity such as aerobic exercises and strengthening workouts for knee pain.
  • Going to physical therapy to treat the root cause of knee pain.
  • Taking painkillers, but only for the short term. They may cause adverse effects when taken for long periods.
  • Do heat and ice therapies at home.

FAQs

Does glucosamine chondroitin help with knee pain?

Yes, glucosamine and chondroitin supplements can provide much relief from knee pain. They can even improve knee function. (1)

Does chondroitin sulfate rebuild cartilage?

Research suggests that yes, it can rebuild cartilage because it’s actually one of the main components of this tissue. (1)

What is the best supplement for knee pain?

The best supplement for knee pain is the one that gives you results. We suggest starting with glucosamine and chondroitin or turmeric because they’ve been widely studied.

Conclusion: Taking chondroitin supplements for knee pain

Chondroitin is vital for rebuilding lost cartilage. Taking it as a supplement can fulfill the body’s requirement for it, which in turn:

  • Can lessen cartilage loss.
  • Minimize joint space narrowing.
  • Decrease knee pain.

You can take it with glucosamine supplements for added benefits.

Finally, the Arthritis Foundation recommends consulting with a physician first before trying it.

More so if you’re taking other drugs (like blood thinners) or suffer from previous health conditions (like rheumatic diseases).

Resources

  1. Honvo, Germain, et al. “Efficacy of chondroitin sulfate in patients with knee osteoarthritis: a comprehensive meta-analysis exploring inconsistencies in randomized, placebo-controlled trials.” Advances in therapy 36.5 (2019): 1085-1099.
  2. Hochberg, M. C. “Structure-modifying effects of chondroitin sulfate in knee osteoarthritis: an updated meta-analysis of randomized placebo-controlled trials of 2-year duration.” Osteoarthritis and Cartilage 18 (2010): S28-S31.
  3. Singh, Jasvinder A., et al. “Chondroitin for osteoarthritis.” Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 1 (2015).
  4. Zeng, Chao et al. “Effectiveness and safety of Glucosamine, chondroitin, the two in combination, or celecoxib in the treatment of osteoarthritis of the knee.” Scientific reports vol. 5 16827. 18 Nov. 2015.
  5. Vallières, M, and P du Souich. “Modulation of inflammation by chondroitin sulfate.” Osteoarthritis and cartilage vol. 18 Suppl 1 (2010): S1-6.
  6. Biggee, Beth A., et al. “Effects of oral glucosamine sulphate on serum glucose and insulin during an oral glucose tolerance test of subjects with osteoarthritis.” Annals of the rheumatic diseases 66.2 (2007): 260-262.
  7. Rozenfeld, Vitalina, Judy L. Crain, and A. Kevin Callahan. “Interaction of warfarin with glucosamine—chondroitin.” American journal of health-system pharmacy 61.11 (2004): 1186-1186.
  8. Anderson, J W et al. “Glucosamine effects in humans: a review of effects on glucose metabolism, side effects, safety considerations and efficacy.” Food and chemical toxicology: an international journal published for the British Industrial Biological Research Association vol. 43,2 (2005): 187-201.
Author
Sony Sherpa (MD)
Sony Sherpa is a board-certified clinical doctor and currently, she is working as a medical officer in the emergency department of a renowned hospital. With a medical degree completed at a young age, she writes medical articles with accuracy owing to her medical knowledge and thorough background research.