Rebuilding Cartilage

Question on Cartilage Injury

In your column on “Rebuilding Cartilage,” you recommended some supplements. I had cartilage removed from my knee 17 years ago. Can I still use these supplements to regenerate cartilage, or has too much time passed? Do you have to take them forever or a specific length of time? Can you use them if you’re pregnant?


Glucosamine sulfate helps to stimulate cartilage regeneration. There are a number of good studies showing excellent results with glucosamine sulfate and osteoarthritis. Osteoarthritis results from wear and tear on the joints from years of use, but can also result from cartilage injury. While I don’t know of any studies on glucosamine sulfate following surgical removal, I do have one anecdotal report of it helping. A man with several knee surgeries and significant pain and disability reported to me that 4 months of supplementation with glucosamine sulfate and the use of antiinflammatory herbs (curcumin and boswellia) significantly decreased his pain and increased his mobility.

Since glucosamine sulfate is a safe substance that is produced in the body, a 3-4 month trial would be worth a try. Usually surgical removal of cartilage from the knee joint leaves any intact and healthy cartilage in place, only the damaged areas are removed. So, it is likely that your knee joint still has some cartilage for regeneration. If you have inflammation, you may want to add some antiinflammatory herbs like ginger, curcumin or boswellia too. Vitamin C is also very important for proper connective tissue function.

Most people get improvement with glucosamine in several months, and the effects last for several months after discontinuing the supplement. The more cartilage damage there is, the longer it will take to repair it.

The only supplement I recommend during pregnancy without a doctor’s recommendation is a good prenatal v
itamin mineral combination, and extra calcium to reach the RDA of 1200 mg per day. I have not seen any information on the safety of glucosamine sulfate in pregnancy, so I would not use it. Ginger in low doses (no more than 800 mg per day) can be used during pregnancy, other herbs should not be used in pregnancy without your doctor or midwife’s advice.

Keywords:cartilage injury,glucosamine sulfate,osteoarthritis

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