Hands With Arthritis, MSM for joint pain

Arthritis creates such dilemmas for its sufferers. There are medications that alleviate pain reasonably well, but many or most of them have serious side effects. Narcotics cause addiction if they are used for extended periods; so do tramadol (Ultram) and pregabalin (Lyrica), which are sometimes prescribed for painful joints. NSAIDs also ease joint pain temporarily, but they can cause digestive problems, harm the kidneys or raise the risk of heart attacks. Could you take MSM for joint pain?

Trouble with Diclofenac:

Q. I have had arthritis for years and was taking diclofenac. However, my doctor took me off of it because it started to affect my kidneys.

When the joints in my thumbs started to swell so I couldn’t even open a soft drink bottle, I began looking for some help. Lucky for me, I found MSM crystals.

After taking MSM for three days, the swelling in my thumbs went down. It’s been a few months and I am now able to walk three miles a day and have had other positive results. For example, my hair and my nails have improved.

I know that this won’t cure arthritis, but it seems to have slowed its progression.

What Is MSM?

A. MSM (methylsulfonylmethane) is a natural compound that has been used for relieving arthritis pain. MSM for joint pain has been more thoroughly studied in Europe than in the US; one Italian study of 120 people with arthritis in their knees found that it performed well in combination with boswellic acid (International Journal of Immunopathology and Pharmacology, March, 2016).  A small Israeli study also found benefit with MSM for joint pain over three months (BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine, June 27, 2011).

We have heard previously that MSM might help nails and hair, although we could not find any studies to support this claim. It does seem to be fairly safe, however (Food and Chemical Toxicology, Oct., 2002).

You’ll find suggestions for many nondrug approaches to ease joint pain in our Guide to Alternatives for Arthritis. You might be able to use one or two in combination with the MSM to get relief.

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  1. Wendie

    I injured my knee 4 weeks ago. I purchased pure MSM chrystals and have been taking 1-2 Tablespoons per day dissolved in purified water and Vital Reds. I have to nuke it to dissolve it. I’ve been doing this for 2 weeks and have only noticed about a 33% reduction in pain. I was hoping it would improve by 50% or more. I am also taking very potent Tumeric at double the recommended dose, Liquid Advil, and have given up all sugar and most carbs. I ice my knee and do gentle stretches but am still disappointed in progress. Am trying to decide which joint supplement to buy. Some claim Hylaruonic Acid, others Collagen, others Chondroitin & Glucosamine and others have even more herbs. Very confusing. HELP!

  2. Sharon

    I would like to try MSM but need to have an endosement for a credible brand supplier for MSM and Boswellia

  3. Jack

    It’s been years since I tried MSM in combo with Glucosamine and Chondroitin, and stopped due to its affect on my blood sugar. And then I heard of high blood pressure from some as well. Taken alone, is there any new info. on MSM ?

  4. Greg Pharmacist
    Maumee, OH

    Kay, As you know rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease, and osteoarthritis is more of a wear-and-tear disease. Getting to the root cause of either disease is important. MSM can be used with either type of arthritis. I would see if this or other treatments for your arthritis may work. Before the doctor prescribes it ask for the side effects and for how common they are. There are risks and benefits to treatment and to watchful waiting.

  5. Greg Pharmacist
    Maumee, OH

    Happy Wife, Talk to your Coumadin Clinic. Consistency is key when using warfarin. MSM may increase your INR. Use the same brand of MSM since over-the-counter meds can vary. To provide prospective, NSAIDS, also changes the INR.

  6. Rick
    East Tennessee

    I am interested in learning more from others concerning MSM.

  7. Stephen

    I am a 72 year old male..in good health. I exercise both weights and cardio machines every other day. I weigh 195 lbs. I have a high metabolism and stay active daily. I have been taking 1000 mgs of MSM 3 times a week. For about the first 2 years of so, I was taking 1000 mgs of MSM daily and then cut back to about 3 or 4 times a week. I started MSM about 3 years ago. I do have some arthritis in my fingers and in my back. The MSM has worked well coupled with the exercise program I am on. I plan to stay on the 1000 mgs of MSM at least 3 or 4 times a week, along with my other supplements.

  8. happy wife

    I take warfarin, I have afib. I’m always concerned if something is safe for me to try.

  9. Patricia
    Compton, CA

    I have been taking 1/8 tsp of pure MSM for the arthritis in my knees for more than 2 years with outstanding results. MSM is mixed in a cocktail consisting POM and grape juices and two tbsp of apple cider vinegar while eating dinner. At the onset, I drank this cocktail twice a day for a month to enhance its effectiveness. The twice a day regimen is also used when rain is imminent. After it rains, I drink it once a day. After conferring with my doctor, I bought one online at a less cost.

    At 67 years young I am once again very active and enjoying the sport activities of my youth.

  10. Kay

    I’m interested in reading about potential treatments for rheumatoid arthritis because I’ve had it for almost four years. I’ve had both good and bad – very, very bad – experiences with prescription medications, and my bad experiences have made me so wary of taking any more meds that I’m open to non-prescription options. However, I’m also wary of treatments that target “arthritis” as if all arthritis is the same. Rheumatoid arthritis is quite different from osteoarthritis. When discussing treatments for “arthritis” it would be most helpful if the People’s Pharmacy would differentiate between the two.

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