Common Sense About Using An MSM Supplement For Joint Pain

blue male figure with red spots representing joint painAdding an MSM supplement to your regime is the latest craze in the field of joint pain. Here’s a summary of what I’ve found out about Methyl Sulfonyl Methane and what I think is the common sense approach to using it.

MSM is a chemical that is found in plants, animals, and people. It can also be easily produced in a laboratory and is available as an over-the-counter supplement online at THE CPH-HEALTH STORE or at many retail outlets. Since the publication of the book The Miracle of MSM: The Natural Solution for Pain, by Drs. S.W. Jacob andR. M. Lawrence, in 1999 (look for it on THE CPH-HEALTH STORE, too), more and more people have been using MSM for chronic pain relief – especially for symptoms of osteoarthritis.

Knee Pain Symptoms – Or Shoulder Joint Pain – Or Thumb Joint Pain

These are common in osteoarthritis, but that’s not the only way you might have acquired these discomforts. What you do for your pain really depends most on what the cause is.

Acute Injury

Common sense tells you that MSM (used in chronic pain treatment) isn’t likely to be the answer if you just pulled a muscle or strained a joint. Treatment with cold packs – or alternating cold and warm packs – and over-the-counter pain pills from a retail outlet or THE CPH-HEALTH STORE will probably take care of it. In this case, you’ll be fine using a plain pain reliever like Acetaminophen (Tylenol) or an NSAID that works on both inflammation and pain (Ibuprofen, Aspirin, Naprosyn, etc.) [I gave you generic drug names because there are so many brand names. The active ingredients on the brand name labels will tell you what you’re getting.]

blue anatomical view of arm pain pointsRepetitive Motion Injury

Joints can start by aching and then become a real pain. It may start with an acute injury, but often it’s started when you do start doing something that your muscles aren’t strong enough to completely control. Then a ligament or tendon gets stretched – and can get torn – causing inflammation. Thumb joint pain called ‘Gamekeeper’s thumb’ can come when you grip and twist small muscles with tools. ‘Tennis elbow’ symptoms come from gripping and twisting with larger muscles as you do in some sports and at work with carpentry, raking, or painting. Knee pain symptoms can come from anything that requires repeatedly squatting (gardening) or twisting or putting extra weight on your bent knee.

Treatment for these injuries often involves the use of splints to stabilize damaged ligaments and tendons, exercise to strengthen the working muscles, and anti-inflammatory and pain pills to reduce the pain. Those who prefer to work with natural treatments also recommend a healthy diet and a number of supplements to facilitate tissue repair.


Vitamins A, C, E, the mineral zinc, and glucosamine and chondroitin all have their place in the repair process. Sulfur seems to be important in the strength and maintenance of joint tissue, especially cartilage and is a significant component of MSM. So it makes sense to me to get an MSM supplement as a source of sulfur as well as for its anti-inflammatory and pain relieving properties.

MSM Use Against Symptoms of Osteoarthritis

drawings of healthy and arthritic kneesWe won’t go into what causes arthritis here but just say that arthritis is a condition in which the natural cartilage and other cushioning tissues in your joints degenerate and leave the nerves in your tendons and bones unprotected as the joint moves. That hurts! And it is a progressive disease – it gets worse!

Treatment generally involves getting adequate rest, moderate exercise, and a healthy diet. Weight loss, if indicated, is recommended. Arthritis is a chronic disease resulting in chronic pain. Most prescription pain medications are habit-forming and have bad side effects with long-term use, so your physician is likely to recommend that you use the NSAID’s we talked about already.

In addition, nutritional supplements can support regeneration of damaged cartilage and slow its progression. Vitamins A, C, E, the mineral zinc, and Glucosamine and Chondroitin are particularly good ones. Again, it makes sense to me that MSM supplementation be added as a source of sulfur as well as for its anti-inflammatory and pain relieving properties.

What About Safety?

MSM is considered a nutritional supplement, not a drug. That means the US Food and Drug Administration hasn’t tested it as it would a drug. The FDA doesn’t officially approve food supplements. However, it will pull anything containing ingredients it considers unsafe from the shelves. So…the very fact that MSM is allowed to be sold as a supplement means that the FDA considers it to be basically safe.

Comments you can see on the Internet medical community (WebMD, MedicineNet.com, and Mayo Clinic) generally admit that MSM itself is ‘possibly’ safe and has few (mild GI symptoms), if any side effects. There seem to be a lot of what I call ‘protect-thine-anatomy’ statements like

  • Read the labels for any inactive ingredients you might be allergic to.
  • Few studies been done on MSM, but animal studies showed no serious problems.
  • It’s efficacy is unproven, but there is great interest in using MSM for various conditions.

My Common Sense Conclusion

MSM is a simple, inexpensive supplement based on a naturally occurring chemical. It seems to help with the management of chronic joint pain – at least for a significant number of people. With my perspective that nothing works for everybody, but that doesn’t mean it won’t work for a lot of folks, it makes sense to me to try using it – along with some of the other joint-support supplements – if you’re interested in doing so. It’s common sense, too, to shop for all your joint pain supply needs here.

Go to the CHP-Health Store button

Two happy women holding arms up