Your knees have been emitting clear signals that something's up for the past few weeks (maybe even months) – they ache in the morning, right after workouts, and even before you get under the sheets. Trying to remember the last time you were pain-free feels like the experience of recounting childhood memories: fuzzy and out of reach. But then, you come across collagen supplements and their promise to alleviate joint pain. You're intrigued.
But … you're also sceptical. Can mixing a scoop of collagen powder into your morning oats (or popping two tablets) truly serve as a “cure” for knee pain? Let’s find out.
How Does Collagen Help Knee Pain?
Collagen (or, more specifically, type 2 collagen) makes up something called the articular cartilage, the tissue that covers the ends of bones at the joints – allowing them to move smoothly against one another. The only problem? This “shock absorber” tends to degrade with age and repeated use (e.g., excessive levels of high-intensity physical activity), which, in turn, increases the likelihood of bone-on-bone contact. And this often translates into general discomfort around the knee region.
A question that naturally results would thus be: "Is there any way to replenish the collagen found between joints?" Well, the title of this section is a dead giveaway, but yes, there is – and it comes in the form of collagen supplements. Take this 2008 study published in the Current Medical Research and Opinion, for instance. Researchers found that athletes with activity-related joint pain (in the knees) treated with dietary supplement collagen hydrolysate experienced significant improvements in joint pain, mobility, and inflammation compared to those assigned to the placebo group.
A more recent 2021 study published in Nutrients lends support to these findings. Here, the researchers also concluded that the oral intake of bioactive collagen peptides led to a significant reduction of activity-related joint pain in young, active participants suffering from knee joint discomfort.
What About My Other Joints?
Great. So, collagen supplements are indeed helpful for knee joints. But what about all the other joints in your body (fun fact: there are 360 joints in the adult human body)? Here’s the answer: yes, collagen supplementation has widespread, beneficial effects on all joints – its relief in joint pain isn’t only limited to the knees. In fact, studies consistently show that collagen supplements can help reduce overall joint pain across all regions of the body. But wait a minute. How does ingested collagen end up between the joints?
Well, researchers theorise that supplemental collagen may accumulate in cartilage and stimulate your tissues to make collagen. In other words: supplementing with, say, 15 grams of collagen peptides daily could lead to a many-fold corresponding increase in protective, inter-joints cartilage!
Does Collagen Help Arthritis?
And now, one final point to cover: does collagen help arthritis? Research suggests that it can indeed. For example, this 2019 review of five studies in more than 500 people with osteoarthritis – published in International Orthopedics – found that taking about 10 grams of collagen daily for an average of 24 weeks led to significant improvements in joint stiffness and self-reported joint pain. Many other smaller studies done in the past point to the same conclusion, and this 2016 study published in The Eurasian Journal of Medicine is no exception. Researchers found that when patients with knee osteoarthritis were given acetaminophen and collagen, they reported significant improvements in their joint pain, function, and quality of life.
Collagen supplementation isn't only potentially beneficial for osteoarthritis management, either. Research into oral collagen's effects on rheumatoid arthritis (a condition that happens when the immune system mistakenly attacks healthy cells, causing painful swelling mainly in the hand, wrist, and knee joints) also found turned up similar findings. One of the most prominent studies is a 2009 study published in Arthritis Research & Therapy. This double-blind trial involving more than 500 individuals with rheumatoid arthritis found that oral collagen supplementation helped decrease pain, morning stiffness, tender joint count, and swollen joint count.
By the way: it’s worth being mindful that while collagen supplementation could help improve joint health for those with arthritis, they're not "cures". The current literature highlights their promise, but it's always a good idea to consult a licensed medical professional if you suspect that you have (or do have) arthritis.
But what about those interested in collagen supplements to alleviate daily joint discomfort? Well, go right ahead. It may not be a cure for a health condition like arthritis, but it is likely to assist based on the research and will promote overall joint health. Psst: if you’re in the market for a collagen supplement that works, then give The Collagen Co a try. It’s formulated with premium quality peptides, then packed with vitamin C, hyaluronic acid, and biotin – the three power ingredients that’ll supplement collagen’s beneficial effects on the joint. You won’t regret it. That’s a promise.