As an orthopedic surgeon specializing in hip and knee replacement, I am constantly getting asked what the best supplements are for joint pain. There are a loads of pills and potions out there that claim to restore your joint health and eliminate the pain of arthritis. Many of these claims are based on little to no scientific research so when I answer this question I try to stick with those supplements that have the best support from clinical trials.
Some of my favorite supplements for joint pain include turmeric, fish oil, and more recently collagen powder. For more information on the benefits of fish oil and turmeric, please check out my other articles dedicated to those topics. As for collagen supplements, a growing body of research (see here and here) is coming out in support of its use to help decrease the pain associated with arthritis, decrease inflammation, and even regrow cartilage.
What is it?
First a quick anatomy lesson: our joints are made up of primarily our bones and cartilage. Cartilage forms the surface of our joints (think the shiny white ends of a chicken bone). The building blocks for both bones and cartilage is the protein collagen. Collagen supplements are made up of hydrolyzed (broken down with water) collagen derived from animal sources including cows and marine (fish) animals. This comes in either a powder or capsule form. Most of these formulations have very little flavor and mix well in almost any liquid. I personally use a grass fed collagen powder that I buy on Amazon and mix it in my daily green smoothie. This costs roughly $0.50 per serving.
As I mentioned, there are several studies that show a benefit for patients taking a daily collagen supplement. These include both decreased knee and joint pain and increased new collagen growth. Other studies have shown that collagen supplements may increase bone density and overall muscle strength (two additional benefits that we can all agree would be nice).
To date, there have been very little side effects reported from taking collagen supplements. Some reports of feeling full or bad taste make up the majority of the complaints. Overall, it seems to be very safe.
Studies support starting with a dose of 8-12 grams daily.
While I would still like to see more high quality scientific research on the topic, based on my own personal experience using daily collagen and that of my now 100’s of patients that I have using this all natural nutritional supplement I believe it can help with joint pain, is safe, and doesn’t cost a fortune.