Joint Supplement: FSA Eligibility
Prescription Required. Information Letter (IL) 2009-0209; Notice 2010-59.
Not eligible without a prescription.
What are joint supplements?
Joint supplements are Over-the-Counter (OTC) medications that supplement the body's natural supply of substances that are found in joints and connective tissue. The supplements help the body restore, maintain and keep healthy these joints and connective tissues. Different supplements might contain different concentrations of substances, or have other additions such as Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs) to help reduce pain. The most common substances found in joint supplements are glucosamine and chondroitin.
Glucosamine is normally found in the body's cartilage. Cartilage is a firm connective tissue that usually serves as a padding or buffer between bones and allows smooth, painless movement in joints. Glucosamine is added to joint supplements through harvesting from the shells of shrimp, lobsters and crabs. Glucosamine is believed to assist the body in preventing cartilage deterioration and improving joint mobility (Medical News Today).
Chondroitin is found in the body's cartilage and bone. Supplementary chondroitin is derived from cow trachea and pork byproducts. Chondroitin is specifically believed to help with cartilage's ability to absorb shock. Therefore, chondroitin is most commonly used as a supplement for pain in the knee joint (WebMD).
Calcium is absorbed by the body from the bones when there is insufficient calcium in a daily diet. Calcium should therefore be considered essential to any supplement plan that addresses joint pain. If a regular diet doesn't include enough calcium, then calcium should be taken as a joint pain supplement. This may be considered rare, as it's usually very easy to consume sufficient calcium through a normal, healthy diet. If a person has a restrictive diet or food allergy, then they should verify they have enough calcium with whatever foods they choose to consume (National Institutes of Health).
Other alternative and herbal supplements that are commonly taken for joint pain include turmeric, ginger, bromelain, and more. Not all of these remedies have been scientifically studied and evaluated to understand their total mechanism or effect on joint pain. Check with a doctor before adding one of these to a joint supplement plan.
Omega-3 fatty acids are an effective anti-inflammatory supplement. They are found in fish, walnuts, canola, and soybean oils. Omega-3 fatty acids help the body produce healthier cells and maintain healthy joints. Omega-3 fatty acids are also an excellent joint supplement because their presence in the body helps with the production of chemicals that reduce inflammation. Omega-3 fatty acids have been studied and proven effective at reducing morning stiffness and relieving joint pain (MedicineNet.com).
Joint supplements are eligible for reimbursement with a consumer-directed healthcare account. Because they are taken to address a specific medical condition, there is no prescription required. Most joint supplements can be purchased Over-the-Counter (OTC).