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What is chondroitin?
Chondroitin is a substance that occurs naturally in the body. It is a significant building block for cartilage, which is the tough connective tissue that cushions the joints. You’ve encountered cartilage if you’ve ever torn apart a chicken wing and chewed on the soft but somewhat crunchy material on the ends of the bones. Chondroitin is an important molecule found in cartilage that helps cartilage stay strong and healthy by helping absorb fluids including water into the cartilage. It also works to block enzymes in the body that can cause cartilage to break down. The body uses chondroitin to make new cartilage to repair damage that occurs as joints move.
Cartilage is important because it separates the ends of bones in a joint and keeps them from grinding together. Over time, cartilage often gets thin and worn down. This can cause pain when the joint moves. Osteoarthritis (OA) is a condition that causes the breakdown of cartilage. It can cause joint pain, swelling in the joints, and can make the joints twist so that the fingers and hands may look deformed.
How chondroitin works
Because chondroitin is an important building block used by the body to rebuild cartilage, science has suggested that supplementing with chondroitin can help improve or prevent osteoarthritis. It is suggested that providing the body with a bigger supply of chondroitin will help it repair damaged cartilage.
Chondroitin has been researched in a variety of scientific studies. Some studies showed that chondroitin can reduce pain from OA, improve joint function in patients with OA in the knee or hip, and reduce joint swelling and stiffness. Other studies did not reveal any real benefits from taking chondroitin alone or in combination with glucosamine. In particular, science has not proven that chondroitin supplements can help delay loss of cartilage or help the body produce new cartilage.
Many studies do support the chondroitin’s ability to reduce pain, which may allow patients to take less pain medication.