MSM is another tool used to fight arthritis pain. Arthritis is chronic inflammation in the joints, severely impacting the baby boomer generation. This inflammation can cause significant pain and substantially limit range of motion in the affected area. The frustration of arthritis stems not only from the pain and restrictions that it causes, but also because there are really no exceptional medications to safely relieve the problem.
MSM, or methysulfonylmethane, supplies the nutrient sulfur, a much-needed mineral for the hair, skin and joint tissue. Sulfur is used throughout the body and is different from sulfa medications, which can contain some sulfur but are a common medication allergy for many. MSM has been used for years as a nutriceutical agent to ease joint pain. There isn't a whole lot of research data investigating MSM’s role in arthritis. Two major studies have found that MSM does help alleviate pain in arthritis sufferers [Source: Kim, Usha]. One study looked at MSM alone, and the second looked at MSM and MSM in combination with another nutritional supplement, glucosamine. In that study, the combination of MSM and glucosamine actually did better than the glucosamine or MSM alone. Some doctors are concerned there is not enough long-term data to say whether MSM is safe. It has had a good safety profile in the studies that have been conducted so far. An animal study looked at doses up to 2 grams per kilogram and found it was tolerated well [Source: Horvath]. The typical dosage for humans is 3 grams, taken 1-2 times a day. This dose is well below that used in the animal study and clinically seems to be tolerated very well.
Arthritis sufferers often wonder what the best options are for alleviating pain. Many medication and nutrition options are available. Anti-inflammatory medications will work for some but have to be used with caution due to the possible side effects like ulcers, gastrointestinal bleeding, elevated blood pressure and kidney problems. Glucosamine might be one of the best studied supplements for arthritis, causing it to be a solid first choice as a supplement for arthritis pain. MSM might be a good complement to glucosamine since the pair seems to work better than either does individually. Chondroitin can be a third option. Herbal anti-inflammatory treatments such as turmeric or boswellia are also choices to consider. The advantage of these nutrition options is that they are typically tolerated very well. Please note that supplements like MSM and glucosamine can take 2-3 months to reach full effect.
MSM is a reasonable option for relief from arthritis pain. The data to support its use is small, but positive. It seems to be well tolerated and is fairly cost effective. It works well with other supplements and can help glucosamine work better. Arthritis sufferers can feel controlled by their pain at times. Having more treatment options available is a positive step in regaining control of their quality of life.