One of the most popular dietary supplements is glucosamine for knee pain. For old age, it can be particularly useful due to its safety profile and low risk of side effects.
In spite of controversies regarding their efficacy, glucosamine sulfate supplements are especially used by older adults for osteoarthritis pain relief. (1)
Below, you’ll learn how glucosamine can relieve knee pain in the elderly. Also, the best dosage, medications that may interact with this supplement, and more. Here’s what we’ll cover:
- Benefits of glucosamine for knee pain in old age
- Best dosage for seniors
- Medications that can interact with glucosamine
- Other treatments for knee pain in the elderly
Tap on any of the bullets above to easily navigate throughout the article.
Benefits of glucosamine for knee pain in old age
Glucosamine is a natural substance found in joints. It’s an essential component of the cartilage that cushions joints. This in turn supports our bones as we move about our day.
However – in seniors, the benefits of glucosamine are not just limited to pain relief. Other equally beneficial effects of glucosamine in older people include:
Helps treat knee osteoarthritis pain
Knee osteoarthritis is the degeneration of joint cartilage. In the elderly, this deterioration is related to the aging process and can cause varying degrees of knee pain.
As glucosamine is a natural part of the cartilage, taking it as a supplement may help the regeneration of joint cartilage after wear and tear.
In fact, several clinical trials have examined the effect of glucosamine on knee osteoarthritispain. They’ve found that it provided significantly more relief from knee pain than a placebo. (2)
Interesting fact: In some countries, glucosamine is routinely prescribed by general practitioners for adults over age 70 and is even reimbursed by medical insurance. (1)
May provide relief from rheumatoid arthritis symptoms
Rheumatoid arthritis is a condition characterized by chronic inflammation of the joints. This results in pain and affects the quality of life of the patient.
However, glucosamine’s anti-inflammatory properties may help decrease this inflammation.
See, during any inflammatory process, there are numerous chemicals present that lead to pain and swelling.
Researchers believe that taking dietary supplements of glucosamine may help reduce or inhibit the action of these chemicals. This in turn disrupts the inflammatory process itself, which can reduce pain and swelling. (3)
Dosage of glucosamine for knee pain in older adults
Over the last two decades, several studies have been conducted to understand the benefits of glucosamine sulfate and glucosamine hydrochloride. Particularly as supplements for moderate to severe pain management.
Most studies found that taking 1500 mg of glucosamine per day can help reduce pain and improve joint health. This is usually taken in the form of 500 mg pills taken three times per day. (4, 5)
1500 mg of glucosamine per day has not been associated with any significant side effects, and there have also been no reports of toxicity with this dosage.
Further reading: Best dosage of glucosamine for knee pain
Long-term effects of 1500 mg of glucosamine per day in seniors
A study evaluated the long-term effects of 1500 mg of glucosamine over a period of 3 years.
They found that in comparison to the placebo group, the participants taking glucosamine had lesser joint degeneration and milder osteoarthritis pain. (4)
Another study in adults between 45 to 70 years of age also looked at the effects of glucosamine when taken for 3 years.
The study reported that in those taking supplements of glucosamine, the progression of osteoarthritis was significantly slowed in comparison to the placebo group. (5)
In summary: Glucosamine isn’t only safe, but it can be highly beneficial o promote joint health in the elderly.
Medications that may interact with glucosamine
Some adults over age 45 take several medications at a time. And although glucosamine is a usually safe supplement to take with most medications, it can interact with some drugs such as:
- Anticoagulants like warfarin and dicumarol.
- Diabetes medications.
However, the degree to which glucosamine interacts with these medications isn’t fully understood. (6)
So, if you take any of those medications, it’s best to consult with your doctor before supplementing with any form of glucosamine.
Other treatments for knee pain in seniors
In addition to taking glucosamine supplements for knee pain, there are several other treatments that can be tried:
Regular aerobic exercise such as walking outdoors can be highly beneficial in those with osteoarthritis. It can help reduce pain and strengthen your joints for further relief.
Combining them with other exercises that increase flexibility and strength is much more effective for pain and stiffness, though. (7)
The weight lost from physical activity can further help relieve knee pain by minimizing the straining forces on the knee.
This can help: Physio-approved exercises for knee pain (with images)
A physical therapist can help you relieve knee pain and get your body strong enough to return to your daily activities. This can also be extremely helpful if you avoid moving due to pain.
The best way to approach this is by going to a physical therapist in your area. Your therapist will assess your symptoms and needs to design a treatment plan that will get you back on track.
Heat and ice therapy
Heat and ice therapy can both help manage knee osteoarthritis. Ice packs applied over knee joints can decrease the swelling, and allow a wider range of movement.
Applying heat over paingul joints can decrease joint pain and also improve movement. (8)
Learn more: What’s better for arthritic knees – heat or cold?
Combine with other supplements
Other supplements targeted at knee pain are available on the market. But, only a few have been proven to be beneficial, such as:
Each one alleviates knee pain in different ways. So, it may be a good idea to combine one or two of them with glucosamine to complement each other’s actions.
However, if you’re taking medication, please consult with your doctor first before combining supplements. Also, try each one for a few months to see which combination works best for you.
Is glucosamine good for seniors?
Yes. It can promote joint health, and it may slow down the progression of osteoarthritis in older adults.
At what age can you start glucosamine?
There is no specific age for taking glucosamine. It can be taken by any adult over 18.
What can you do for knee pain when older?
It’s best to go to a physical therapist to check what’s causing the pain in the first place. Combine this with regular physical exercise, a balanced diet, and enough quality sleep for best results.
Conclusion: Taking glucosamine for knee pain in old age
Glucosamine sulfate has long been used as a supplement for mild knee pain relief.
It’s mostly taken to treat osteoarthritis-related symptoms, but it can also help in other causes of joint pain, such as rheumatoid arthritis.
The recommended dosage of glucosamine for knee pain is 1500 mg per day, taken in divided doses of 500 mg thrice per day. It’s a safe supplement with minimal risk of side effects.
If you are considering taking glucosamine or any other supplement for knee pain, it is best to try them out in the recommended dosage, and then see if they can help you.
- Galvin, Rose et al. “Prescribing patterns of glucosamine in an older population: a national cohort study.” BMC complementary and alternative medicine vol. 13 316. 13 Nov. 2013.
- Ogata, Toru et al. “Effects of glucosamine in patients with osteoarthritis of the knee: a systematic review and meta-analysis.” Clinical rheumatology vol. 37,9 (2018): 2479-2487.
- Kantor, Elizabeth D et al. “Associations between glucosamine and chondroitin supplement use and biomarkers of systemic inflammation.” Journal of alternative and complementary medicine (New York, N.Y.) vol. 20,6 (2014): 479-85.
- Reginster, Jean Yves, et al. “Long-term effects of glucosamine sulphate on osteoarthritis progression: a randomised, placebo-controlled clinical trial.”The Lancet 357.9252 (2001): 251-256.
- Pavelká, Karel, et al. “Glucosamine sulfate use and delay of progression of knee osteoarthritis: a 3-year, randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind study.”Archives of internal medicine 162.18 (2002): 2113-2123.
- Williams C, Ampat G. Glucosamine Sulfate. [Updated 2021 Nov 29]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2022 Jan-. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK558930/
- Villafañe, Jorge Hugo. “Exercise and osteoarthritis: an update.” Journal of exercise rehabilitation vol. 14,4 538-539. 24 Aug. 2018.
- Jones, Brandon Q., Carlton Covey, and Marvin Sineath Jr. “Nonsurgical management of knee pain in adults.” American Family Physician 92.10 (2015): 875-883.
- “Glucosamine and Chondroitin for Osteoarthritis.” National Center of Complementary and Integrative Health. Available from: https://www.nccih.nih.gov/health/glucosamine-and-chondroitin-for-osteoarthritis