Symptoms include joint pain, stiffness, and decreased range of motion.
But the supplement SAM-e might help, according to a study published in the journal BMC musculoskeletal disorders.
Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are the mainstay medications used to manage osteoarthritis pain.
However, they have side effects including gastrointestinal complications and increased risk of heart disease.
Therefore, researchers are searching for safer alternatives.
S-Adenosylmethionine (SAM-e) is naturally produced in the body.
It serves as a methyl group donor. Methyl groups can be added to enzymes or DNA among others, and boost or inhibit their activity.
Thereby, SAM-e can influence many biological processes. For example, administration of SAM-e to bone cells increase production of proteoglycan, a building block of cartilage.
SAM-e may also reduce inflammation and thereby reducing pain.
These effects can be useful in the treatment of arthritis.
The researchers wanted to compare SAM-e to the NSAID drug celecoxib.
They enrolled 61 subjects in the study. SAM-e was dosed at 1200 mg and celecoxib at 200 mg. Both had to be taken for 8 weeks.
Both celecoxib and SAM-e relieved self-reported pain.
In the first month, celecoxib was more effective. But in the second month, SAM-e catched up and both were equally effective.
This can be seen in the figure below. The dotted line represents the pain score at the start of the study.
Thus, the pain relieving effect of SAM-e needs some time to build up. The researchers wonder if the effect of SAM-e would continue to improve had the study lasted longer.
The researchers conclude that SAM-e relieves joint pain in osteoarthritis. Furthermore, it appeared equally effective as the anti-inflammatory drug celecoxib.