Fighting joint pain with MSM

MSM (methylsulfonylmethane) provides sulphur, a vital building block of joints, cartilage, skin, hair and nails, and methyl groups, which support many vital biochemical processes in the body, including energy production.


Dr. Jemal Khan

MSM is a naturally occurring nutrient found in small amounts of many foods. MSM can be taken alone or in combination with other joint health supplements, such as glucosamine and chondroitin.

What causes joint pain?

The two main causes of chronic joint pain that most people are familiar with are osteoarthritis and tendonitis.

Osteoarthritis and physical strain can lead to joint pain and inflammation (swelling). MSM has been shown to relieve pain associated with OA. It has also shown anti-inflammatory effects in animal research.

Joints affected by OA suffer from uneven loading, which leads to altered lines of weight bearing. Cartilage begins to build up to compensate for the uneven load, which forms roughening and deformities in the joint surface. The joints inflame and no longer operate smoothly. The joints rub unevenly from the friction of the outgrowths of cartilage and bone, called bone spurs (osteophytes).

These changes cause irritation, triggering more cartilage growth and inflammation, starting a tragic cycle of pain and degeneration. Since there is not a cure for OA, treatment focuses on easing the symptoms.

Tendonitis, such as tennis elbow, and other sports injuries involve inflammation and micro-trauma to the soft tissues around the joints.

The inflammation caused by these injuries can easily become chronic due to overuse, resulting in symptoms not unlike arthritis: soreness, stiffness, and general pain in the region.

Sulphur is one of the key requirements for connective tissue integrity and repair. MSM provides a rich source of bio-available sulphur to support soft-tissue repair and regeneration.

The role of sulphur

MSM is thought to deliver sulphur to the body in a useable way. Sulphur helps maintain the structure of connective tissue by forming cross-linkages in the tissue. Sulphur strengthens the tissues that make up the joint. Glycosaminoglycans are the fundamental building blocks of joint cartilage, and GAG molecules are linked together in chains by sulphur (disulfide bonds). The sulphur linkages reduce the flexibility of GAG chains, making cartilage firm and resilient. Without sulphur, proper cartilage health is not possible.

MSM contains a lot of sulphur – 34 per cent by weight. Individuals allergic to ‘sulpha-drugs’ can safely take MSM.

The role of methyl groups

Many metabolic processes in the body-from the generation of energy to the synthesis of hormones-depend upon methyl groups.

MSM dosage

The generally recommended dosage is 1,500 to 6,000 mg of MSM per day. Some people achieve results in as little as a week, but for most people it will take more time for MSM to reduce joint pain. MSM can safely be taken over the long term with no documented toxicity. MSM is prized by professional and amateur athletes for effective nutritional support of athletic performance and recovery from soft tissue and joint injuries.