Frequently Asked Questions About Joint Health

What are the best things to do to maintain optimum joint health?

Answered by Douglas W. Kiburz, M.D.

Adequate nutrition, proper exercise, and weight control are all very important for joint health. With weight loss, patients see immediate benefit by lessened joint pain and discomfort. This encourages them in pursuing an active exercise program under the supervision of their physician or other healthcare provider. Eating a balanced diet also assists in the maintenance of joint health.

Are dietary supplements helpful in maintaining joint health?

Answered by Douglas W. Kiburz, M.D.

Over the past twenty years, the public became familiar with supplements such as glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate, for joint health. The public's experience with such products is mixed, but on balance positive, and there is some clinical data to support the use of such products. A large step forward has been taken with the development of oral hyaluronan supplements, which provide the same molecule that is used in costly joint injections administered to control inflammation. I recommend hyaluronan supplements to many of my patients experiencing joint pain or discomfort. My clinical experience with the supplement Baxyl™ is particularly favorable.

What is the role of NSAIDs in the maintenance of joint health?

Answered by Karen Aubrey, CNRN

NSAIDs — including aspirin, acetaminophen, and ibuprofen, as well as the more recently introduced and highly controversial COX-2 inhibitors — are widely used by those experiencing pain or joint discomfort. The problem is that these drugs do not in general get at the root cause of the pain, which is deterioration of joint structure, leading to functional impairment and inflammation. While NSAIDs have their place in clinical practice, all evidence is that they are massively overused by the general public, which could benefit from better diet and exercise as well as nutritional supplementation, when necessary.

Does hyaluronan have a role in spinal health?

Answered by Rebecca E. Weems, Ph.D.

The nucleus pulposus of the intervertebral disk contains large amounts of hyaluronan. Integrity of the disk requires this hyaluronan to remain intact. Disk problems are frequently correlated with a breakdown of intervertebral disk hyaluronan.

What role does hyaluronan play in a typical joint?

Answered by Douglas W. Kiburz, M.D.

Hyaluronan is highly abundant in the synovial fluid of joints, where it is the molecule chiefly responsible for lubrication and shock absorption. Hyaluronan is also abundant in the articular cartilage of joints, where it forms the infrastructure to which the rest of the structural components become attached.

What is a key joint molecule like hyaluronan doing in skin?

Answered by Karen Aubrey, CNRN

Hyaluronan carries with it one thousand times its own weight in water. This helps to explain how hyaluronan cushions and lubricates joints. Skin is rich in hyaluronan, which is responsible for retention of moisture within skin. Interestingly, many contemporary cosmetic products seek to replace the lost moisture of aging skin through direct application of hyaluronan to the skin.

What is in hyaluronan joint supplements such as Baxyl™?

Answered by Karen Aubrey, CNRN

Baxyl™ contains hyaluronan (also known as sodium hyaluronate or hyaluronic acid), a key component of joints. Baxyl™ also contains water (to ensure hyaluronan absorption), sodium chloride (for palatability), as well as small amounts of citric acid, potassium sorbate and sodium benzoate (for product stability). Baxyl™ contains no animal products and is GMO-free.

Isn't hyaluronan used in joint injections?

Answered by Douglas W. Kiburz, M.D.

Sodium hyaluronate is approved for intraarticular injection in the treatment of joint discomfort, such as with osteoarthritis.

How does hyaluronan compare with joint supplements containing chondroitin sulfate and glucosamine?

Answered by Douglas W. Kiburz, M.D.

To get maximum benefit from joint supplements containing chondroitin sulfate and glucosamine, it is important to have sufficient quantities of hyaluronan as well. This is because hyaluronan forms the backbone of key joint structures that also contain chondroitin sulfate and glucosamine. Without the hyaluronan backbone, these structures cannot form correctly.

Are there differences among the hyaluronan joint supplements on the market?

Answered by Douglas W. Kiburz, M.D.

Many low-quality joint supplements provide either a low concentration of hyaluronan or desiccated hyaluronan, which is not readily absorbed. A very few joint supplements, such as Baxyl™, provide hyaluronan that is fully hydrated, ensuring maximum bioavailability.

Why is it important to take joint supplements every day?

Answered by Douglas W. Kiburz, M.D.

The clearest example of this is with hyaluronan. The body breaks down hyaluronan continually. While the body also makes hyaluronan continually, there is reason to believe that, with aging and overuse, biosynthesis does not always keep pace with breakdown. For this reason, supplementation provides the opportunity to replenish what is lacking. It is also believed that contemporary humans ingest far less hyaluronan than did their ancestors, and that optimum levels of intake are not achieved by the typical 21st-century diet.

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