Glucosamine and chondroitin for back pain are 2 substances that are theorized to be helpful in building cartilage and slowing down the typical degenerative processes in the spinal column. These compounds are taken orally as a dietary nutritional supplement.
Glucosamine and chondroitin are sold in health food stores in liquid and capsule form and high quality G&C supplements can be rather expensive.
Going back a few years, glucosamine and chondroitin were all the rage in the back pain treatment industry. So many doctors and chiropractors sold them, often at tremendous markups, and patients were thrilled at the possibility of fixing their spines using these all-natural substances. However, results never lived up to the hype and now G&C are no longer favorites among back pain relief products.
Glucosamine and chondroitin are some of the building blocks of cartilage. Both substances also have powerful anti-inflammatory properties.
G&C have been used for over 40 years as nutritional supplements with and without direct association to treating back ache. In fact, people take these supplements for a wide range of different reasons.
Glucosamine and chondroitin are naturally found in the human body. Glucosamine is also found in the exoskeleton of crabs, lobsters and shrimp (chitin). Chondroitin is found in the cartilage of other animals. Shark and cow cartilage are the most common sources of quality nutritional chondroitin supplements. The need for sustainable harvesting of G&C sources has slowed down production in some markets and also increased cost of many of the final consumer products.
Glucosamine and chondroitin will not work specifically to relieve back pain. They may help to build cartilage and keep your joints functioning smoothly. Osteoarthritis in the spine can erode the cartilage around the spinal bones. Without the protective cartilage, the various components of the vertebrae can rub against each other, potentially causing painful symptoms.
Bone spurs can also form around the spinal facet joints. Facet joint syndrome is the name of one diagnostic theory used to explain discomfort due to joint deterioration in the spine. Degeneration of the cartilage leads to increased friction in the spinal joints. This bone-on-bone contact is the suspected reason for most facet joint symptoms.
Using glucosamine and chondroitin may help to rebuild lost cartilage and increase the natural protective measures in the spinal joints.
I tried to use various forms of these substances for several years. My back pain was so severe, that I was trying everything in order to find some relief. I never noticed any positive effects from either glucosamine or chondroitin. However, I did not have arthritis in my spine or facet syndrome. I had herniated discs and back muscle pain. I did not know that G&C would not be of any use to me.
Many of my chiropractors said G&C were great for disc pathologies, but I have also read that they have absolutely no benefits in helping to repair or heal disc issues. I believe their claims and recommendations had more to do with making a sale of this overpriced product than to help any patient overcome their pain.
You might want to try glucosamine and chondroitin if you are suffering from osteoarthritis back pain. The substances are natural and will not harm you. They might help other painful arthritic areas, as well. Unfortunately, quality supplements are rather expensive. Too bad health insurance will pay huge sums of $$$ for addictive and dangerous prescription drugs, but will not help to cover the cost of potentially helpful, natural supplements.