Joints that are severely damaged, no matter the cause, can be replaced by endoprosthesis (artificial joint), but this is the last option. One of the more innovative approaches for joint repair is stem cell injection taken from adipose tissue. Stem cells are found in bone marrow and adipose tissue, and are capable of transforming into any cell type, that is, they can become any type of tissue – ligament, tendon, and bone or muscle tissue. The method is suitable for large joints such as the knees and hip, and is used for changes caused by aging or other causes. The entire procedure must be performed by a specialist doctor.

VITAMIN AND MINERAL SUPPLEMENTS FOR JOINT REGENERATION

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Although research about how nutrition can impact the joint renewal is still insufficient for scientific criteria, each patient is advised to introduce in their diet foods that evidently have a beneficial effect on the overall wellbeing, as well as on specific parts such as the musculoskeletal system. Some of them are:

  • Cyanidin – an anthocyanin pigment found in foods such as cherries, grapes, blueberries, blackberries and red cabbage. When tested in laboratory conditions, cyanidin was shown to have a beneficial effect on damaged cells of the shoulder.
  • Collagen – Most of the proteins in the muscles, tendons and ligaments are made up of collagen, which implies that the recovery of these body parts should focus on the restoration of collagen. Studies shown that men who consumed 20g of whey protein a day has effect on strengthening the quadriceps and patella tendons.
  • Vitamin C – Essential for collagen formation. Studies in which subjects have consumed higher amounts of Vitamin C have shown that there is a link between vitamin and higher bone density. And one study showed that higher doses of Vitamin C could accelerate the healing of the Achilles tendon.
  • Vitamin D – bones are made up almost entirely of calcium and must be taken in amounts depending on age and gender. The main purpose of calcium is to prevent osteoporosis. It is essential for maintaining the bones and tooth healthy, proper functioning of the nervous and muscular systems, regulates heart rate, blood pressure and blood clotting, and is also important for hormonal balance, but many do not know that vitamin D is required for calcium absorption. Vitamin D’s main role is to maintain normal levels of calcium and phosphorus in the blood by controlling its absorption and storage. It contributes to the normal function of the immune system and the maintenance of normal muscle function. Vitamin D directly affects the cartilage, stimulating greater production of the cells that produce it.

IS COLLAGEN REALLY EFFICIENT FOR JOINT REGENERATION?

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Collagen is the most abundant protein of animal world. There are 16 types of collagen, but almost all of the body’s collagen is type I, II or III. Types I and III are found on the skin, tendons, organs and bones. Type II collagen is found in cartilage and is therefore associated with arthritis.

Collagen is made up from amino acids (building blocks of proteins). Consuming collagen as a dietary supplement allows the body to use amino acids to protect and restore joint cartilage.

TYPES OF COLLAGEN SUPPLEMENTS

There are three types of collagen supplements: gelatin and hydrolyzed collagen are of animal origin and differ in processing, and undenatured type II collagen is a naturally untreated form of collagen.

Gelatin and hydrolyzed collagen are broken down from large proteins into smaller pieces. When collagen is cooked for a long time (as in bone broth), it breaks down into gelatin. Collagen can be further broken down into its basic amino acids and is called collagen hydrolyzate, hydrolyzed gelatin, collagen peptides or hydrolyzed collagen.

Undenatured collagen is not broken down into smaller proteins or amino acids. Undenatured Collagen Type II (UC-II) is not intended for your body as collagen repair. In a process called oral tolerance, very small doses of type II collagen are taken to train the body’s immune system to stop attacking its own collagen.

From a nutritional perspective, it is hard to devide whether you ate a hydrolyzed collagen supplement, a piece of chicken or a bean. These are all sources of protein and when your digestive system breaks them down into amino acids, they are no different.

SO WHY TAKING COLLAGEN AS A DIETARY SUPPLEMENT?

The results of the study of hydrolyzed collagen supplements are mixed. Some small studies, including a review article published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine IN 2017., have shown that people taking collagen supplements experience pain relief.

The studies for type II collagen were not finalized. A study from 2016. published in the Nutrition Journal divided 191 people with osteoarthritis into three groups: one group received a placebo; one group received type II collagen and the third group received chondroitin sulfate supplements. After 180 days of treatment, group that took the type II collagen had less pain, stiffness and greater mobility compared to the placebo group (and negligible better results than the third group using chondroitin).

Chondroitin sulfate also reduces pain, protects and, as some studies have shown, stimulates the formation of new cartilage. Chondroitin sulfate is a glycosaminoglycan, a natural component of cartilage present in the connective tissues of all mammals. It is most commonly obtained from shark cartilage. Chondroitin creates a synovial fluid that nourishes the joint and protects it from mechanical damage. With ageing, these structures wear out and become harder to repair and their decay occurs with pain and impaired mobility. It creates the basis for the development of osteoarthritis, but also for easier occurrence of various mechanical injuries of the joints. The use of chondroitin sulfate increases the mobility of degenerated joints, reduces the pain and the need for non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.

But let’s go back to the type II collagen tests. Tests conducted on patients suffering from rheumatoid arthritis had mixed results. A double-blind study in 2009. involving more than 500 people with rheumatoid arthritis revealed that undenatured collagen reduced participants’ pain, morning stiffness, number of sensitive joints, and the number of swollen joints, but not methotrexate. The study, published in the journal Arthritis Research and Therapy, concluded that type II collagen is safe and effective in treating rheumatoid arthritis. There is insufficient evidence that any arthritis patient would benefit from any collagen supplement. But current studies have shown encouraging results, and research continues.

LIFE STYLE

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If you decide for any of the following options for joint replacement from implantation of artificial joints, stem cell therapy, or increase the intake of certain foods or supplements, no single method will be sufficient if applied independently. To succesfully relief joint problems, it is best to have multidisciplinary approach. Some of the more important tips are:

  • Take care of your weight to reduce the load on your joints.
  • Reduce inflammation, use anti-inflammatory drugs for this purpose, if prescribed by your doctor, and avoid foods that cause inflammation.
  • Use pain relief creams (eg. Acuraflex).
  • Make sure you consume enough vitamins, minerals and omega 3 fatty acids. If you feel you are not getting if rom food, think about supplements.
  • Exercise and move enougth to maintain mobility and strengthen the muscles that support the bones.
  • Preferably stay in a dry climate and avoid wet areas.