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Fred's Views

Glucosamine and Condroitin

The following are my observations only. I have no medical training (even the thought of medical training would make me sick!) and I am NOT a doctor. As always, you should consult your doctor before starting any new medication or treatment. Your results may differ from mine.

Scared you off yet? If not, please remember these are just my experiences. In no way should you assume that you will have similar results. Use your own common sense.

For many years I have had a recurring "condition" that my previous doctor (now retired) diagnosed as arthritis. (I am not suggesting that it was/is anything other than arthritis, just that we did not spend a lot of time discussing my condition, no specific tests were taken, no on-going medication prescribed and no second opinion obtained.) Almost every year I would get discomfort in one of my elbows or knees (usually knees). Each year, it would move around from one joint to another. At its best, it was barely noticeable and was essentially ignored. At its worst, it caused discomfort enough to make it difficult to fall asleep at night. On two separate occasions, I was given a prescription. I do not know what the prescriptions were for. The first medication zonked me out and I was in a near "zombie" state. The second medication had no apparent side effects. Both medications did reduce the discomfort, but they did nothing to improve the long-term situation.

The condition would usually show up sometime during the fall or winter and disappear during the warmest months of summer. Sometimes, it would stay with me year round. I don't believe I have ever gone a whole winter without any discomfort - at least not recently.

Early last summer, we noticed that my dog was showing symptoms similar to my own: stiff joints with some discomfort. Being the "baby" that she is, she would holler as if she were being killed, but, when she got the chance to run outside, she soon forgot her troubles (most of the time). We asked the veterinarian about her condition. In essence, although the diagnosis could not be reliably made without x-rays, it appeared to be arthritis. There were two possible remedies: a shot (I forget of what) or Glucosamine/Condroitin supplement. Since it was summer, and her condition was almost non-existent, we did not pursue the matter at that time. However, in early August my joints became unusually uncomfortable, and I decided to try Glucosamine/Condroitin myself.

It took a good week before I noticed any effects. Then, day by day, my discomfort eased. Soon, I felt no discomfort at all. However, that was not particularly unusual for the summer. I continued to take the supplement. As fall approached, my dog began exhibiting more signs of stiffness and discomfort, so we bought the supplement for her. (It was designed to be squirted on her food and consumed in that way. However, our dogs are fed "on demand" - meaning the food is always there - and, since our other dog showed no symptoms, it would be difficult to control which dog received the supplement. (And the supplement was expensive enough that we didn't want to give it out if it wasn't needed.) As a result, I gave her the supplement orally with a plastic syringe. She didn't particularly appreciate this method, so I kept looking for alternatives. I did try some alternatives, but we are now back to the vet's supplement.

With the exception of some mild discomfort that usually lasted only a few minutes, I have been totally free of "my affliction" since last August. Now that February and - with it, hopefully, winter - is winding down, I think I can safely claim that glucosamine/condroitin has been very beneficial to me. I plan to continue taking a tablet twice daily.

My dog has not fared quite so well. After a week or so of taking the supplement, she seemed to be much better. I weaned her off of the vet's treatment and tried some other "joint care" products. For a while, everything seemed fine, but, gradually, her symptoms reappeared. Since then, we have returned to the vet's supplement, and she has improved. She still has occasional problems - probably more stiffness than actual pain, although you'd never believe that if you heard her yelp - but most of the time she is almost as mobile and frisky as her sibling. I still have to lift her up onto the bed and down again - yes, she sleeps with us. Our bed is a tall water-bed style with two rows of drawers underneath - but just about anything else she can manage to jump up on if she really wants to.

My totally unscientific conclusion is that, for my dog and me at least, glucosamine/condroitin can help ease arthritic symptoms and may, underline "may", actually reduce the effects of arthritis. While I have no reason to believe that taking a recommended dosage of glucosamine/condroitin would cause any harm, you didn't hear that from me. Consult your doctor.

Could it be the "placebo effect" and not any real change? Could be for me, I'm still amazed I didn't get sympathetic labor pains when my kids were born (about thirty years ago), but how do you account for the improvement in my dog? No, I think there is something here, and I hope there will be more serious scientific investigations undertaken shortly.

Copyright © 2002 by Fred Oldfield. All rights reserved.

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