The Rising Rate of Arthritis Causes Concern in the Athletic and Sports Community

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Athletes and sports enthusiasts are wise to heed a Federal government report that reveals a rising trend in arthritis among an aging and sedentary population, as well as mounting evidence that nutritional supplements may provide relief.

. . . osteoarthritis can actually be stopped in its tracks or reversed by using glucosamine and chondroitin sulfates.

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A Centers for Disease Control (CDC) report published in the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report of October 13, 2006 reveals that arthritis is on the rise in the U.S. and predicts that the trend will continue.

Data from the National Health Interview Survey (2003-2005), on which the CDC’s report was based, indicate that 21.6% of the adult population of the U.S. (46.4 million people) report being told by a doctor or other health care professional that they have arthritis. In addition, 8.3% of the population (17.4 million people) reported limitations in their usual activities, which they attribute to arthritis. And these numbers represent a trend that shows no sign of slowing —- the CDC predicts that arthritis will affect 67 million adults in the United States by 2030.

In addition to the general wear-and-tear on joints that occurs with aging, sports-related injuries are one of the primary risk factors for developing osteoarthritis. Athletes are at risk not only because of injuries sustained, but also due to the demands their workouts and activities place on their joints. And the risk of sports-related injury is compounded for individuals who alternate weekends of sporting activity with a sedentary lifestyle during the work week.

Arthritis experts everywhere agree—continuing activity is one of the best defenses against arthritis. But what can athletes do to maintain their activities and prevent or forestall arthritis—and deal with its symptoms, should they occur? The answer may lie in the use of nutritional supplements.

According to the Arthritis Foundation, science is finding increasing evidence of the therapeutic potential of dietary supplements. In his best-selling book The Arthritis Cure, for example, Dr. Jason Theodosakis states that “. . . osteoarthritis can actually be stopped in its tracks or reversed by using glucosamine and chondroitin sulfates.” Several other supplements have also demonstrated potential benefits.

  • Glucosamine – Human studies and animal experiments have pointed to the benefit of glucosamine in treating osteoarthritis in various joints, and particularly in knees. Glucosamine may be used alone or in combination with chondroitin
  • Chondroitin - Scientific evidence points to chondroitin’s potential to alleviate symptoms and arrest (or possibly reverse) the degenerative process of osteoarthritis.
  • MSM – Clinical research has demonstrated MSM’s effectiveness in alleviating pain and supporting a normal range of motion. MSM may be used alone or in combination with other supplements, such as glucosamine and chondroitin.
  • Calcium – Calcium is essential for overall bone health. The US Recommend Daily Allowance (RDA) is between 800 and 1200 mg/day, yet the average adult consumes only about 550 milligrams of dietary calcium daily.
  • Magnesium – Studies suggest that magnesium may increase bone density. The body requires magnesium for optimal calcium absorption; in fact, excessive calcium intake combined with insufficient magnesium can cause more problems than insufficient calcium alone. Supplemental magnesium can help solve the problem of calcium deficiency.
  • Niacinamide – While continued research is required, preliminary human studies suggest that niacinamide, a B vitamin, may be effective in the treatment of osteoarthritis.

Supplements such as these offer hope for halting arthritis and providing relief from symptoms—and for athletes, they could mean the difference between staying in the game and being sidelined.

For more information on arthritis, supplements and vitamins, please visit


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Jason Cohen
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