Managing Knee Pain Due to Arthritis

You may have heard a recent story on NPR about the uncertainty of the efficacy of glucosamine and chrondoitin for helping knee joint pain due to osteoarthritis.  Osteoarthritis is also known as ‘wear and tear’ arthritis, damage to the cartilage causing inflammation, reduced range of motion, crunchiness, and pain.  It can happen as part of the aging process or from repetitive overuse due to work or athletics.

The good news is that the study found that 66% of participants who took the glucosamine and chondroitin supplements reported a pain reduction of around 20%.  The bad news is that 60% of participants taking the sugar pill placebo reported the same reduction in pain.  In other words, a lot of people felt a bit better but it probably wasn’t because of the supplement.  Other participants with more severe knee pain got better results 79% on the glucosamine/chondroitin vs. 54% taking the placebo.

Is spending money on these supplements worth it for most osteoarthritis sufferers?  A larger study is being done but this one certainly raises a lot of questions about how well the supplement that many are spending a lot of money on really works.  With 60% of participants taking the sugar pill getting relief it also sheds light, as many studies do, on how effective your belief that something will work affects the outcome.

What is certain to reduce knee pain for most is to exercise and lose weight.  The article says that losing only 5 pounds reduces pressures on the knee joints by 20 pounds and all types of exercise seem to reduce pain and increase flexibility.

This recent National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine study shows that weekly 60 minute massages can decrease pain and increase function of participants with knee osteoarthritis more quickly than standard care alone.  In addition massage can help reduce spasms in muscles that further compress the joint as well as manage compensation patterns and other muscle and connective tissue problems that accompany osteoarthritis.

There are many other sources of knee pain that massage can help with as well including misalignment, trigger points, old injuries, and other soft tissue problems.

If you have any questions about how I can help you with osteoarthritis or knee pain please contact me at ablair@aliblairmassagetherapy.com or call 859-576-9409.