How do glucosamine and chondroitin treat joint ailments?

One of the most frequently asked questions we receive from our customers pertains to the FSA-eligibility of vitamin supplements, which are considered by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to be "general health" items, and not used in the treatment of a medical condition.

However, alongside prenatal vitamins, a notable exception to this rule is glucosamine and chondroitin -- popular supplements used to treat the pain and loss of function associated with osteoarthritis (OA).

What is glucosamine?

Glucosamine is a substance that is found naturally in the body within healthy cartilage, most notably in the fluid around the joints, reports the Arthritis Foundation. The supplement most often used to treat arthritis and joint issues is glucosamine sulfate, which has shown in laboratory tests to provide anti-inflammatory effects, and can assist in the regeneration of cartilage.

What is chondroitin?

Much like glucosamine, chondroitin is also a naturally occurring substance in the body, and a major building block of cartilage. Chondroitin contributes to overall cartilage health by retaining water, which, in turn, contributes to overall joint flexibility. According to the National Institute of Health, research has not shown chondroitin to be helpful for pain stemming from knee or hip osteoarthritis.

How do glucosamine and chondroitin work?

Glucosamine and chondroitin are usually combined in supplements to treat a wide range of osteoarthritis and joint pain issues. The National Institute of Health reports the vast majority of research surrounding these supplements relates to the treatment of hip and knee issues, with a comparatively small amount of research conducted on other joints.

Chondroitin and glucosamine supplements alone, or in combination, may not work for everyone with osteoarthritis.

However, patients who take these supplements and have seen improvements in joint pain and function should not stop taking them. These supplements are safe to take long-term and may present a viable option for those contending with chronic joint pain issues.

If you suffer from joint pain concerns, use your flex dollars at to give glucosamine and chondroitin supplements a try.


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