As we grow older, the connective tissue (i.e., cartilage) that helps our joints function begins to wear away. The gradual wear and tear of cartilage can often lead to inflammation and stiff joints in the knees, lower back, hips, neck, and the small joints in hands and feet. If those things affect you, some studies suggest that gelatin can ease your pain, and maybe even heal your joints.
What Causes Osteoarthritis?
Osteoarthritis (OA) is a degenerative joint disease. It affects around twenty-seven million Americans, making it the most common chronic joint condition.  Everyone is susceptible to OA, however, it tends to be most present in those sixty-five-years-old and up. This is likely because it takes years for cartilage to break down. 
For the most part, OA affects cartilage, the rubber-like tissue that lubricates the ends of bones in joints to promote smooth and painless movement. Cartilage also acts as a shock absorber between bones, which is especially helpful for athletic individuals and people who bend their knees and backs all day (e.g., gardening, playing with kids). 
Cartilage is made up of several layers which can, over time, wear away. While this breakdown takes a long time to happen, the bones eventually have little-to-no cartilage separating them. Fragments of cartilage and bone can break off and have nowhere to go, which leads to inflammation and mobility pains. Continued use of these joints with bone-on-bone contact leads to things such bone spurs (i.e., bony projections that develop along the edges of bones) as well as joint damage and further pain. [1,3]
It’s a vicious cycle, which makes it even more necessary to take care of your body and seek help if you feel similar pains to what we’ve described.
Causes of Osteoarthritis
These are some of the risk factors that might contribute to this disease:
- Joint injury
- Improperly formed joints
- Genetic defects in cartilage
- Joint stress from work and play
It is interesting that many of these things are simply part of your everyday life or out of your control. That is, in most cases, you probably aren’t doing anything purposely bad. We should try to do everything in our power to promote good cartilage health.
Rebuilding Cartilage Can Ease Your Pain
Some may be disappointed to hear that cartilage cannot heal on its own, but have hope! There are some incredible studies showing that it is possible to regrow your cartilage.
One study published in The Journal of Arthroscopic and Related Surgery attempted to regrow knee cartilage using arthroscopy, a less invasive alternative to knee replacement. Dr. Kevin Stone led a team in a 125-person study with an average age of forty-six-years-old.
Doctors took cartilage from an undamaged part of everyone’s knees and turned it into a paste which would later be placed over the damaged area. Researchers noted that after twelve years, many patients felt less pain and could move up and down stairs more easily. Of the 125 individuals, researchers checked sixty-six of their knees to find that forty-two of them showed signs of regrown cartilage.
Further, eighteen cases of the regrown cartilage looked like normal cartilage. It’s important to note, however, that this kind of cartilage is not normal per se but “repair”. 
In other studies at the Hospital for Special Surgery (HSS), Dr. Riley Williams performed cartilage restoration surgery using synthetic and real cartilage on patients who were an average of 51 years old. The two studies included patients who had damaged cartilage under their kneecaps or at the end of their femur bones.
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Dr. Williams performed the surgeries using different “plugs” to fill holes in the cartilage. Researchers followed up with patients who had successful operations after three-and-a-half years. They reported being more physically active and having lower levels of pain. In each study, the doctors mentioned that these operations had potential to improve quality of life and could at least delay the need for full-on joint replacement or knee replacement surgery.
Eating Gelatin Can Help Build Cartilage
Gelatin is a translucent, flavorless food product that you get from hydrolyzed collagen – a vital protein found in skin and other connective tissues. 
At a meeting of the American Academy of Family Physicians in Dallas, members discussed a study observing the effects of gelatin on people with osteoarthritis of the knee.
The study took 175 individuals who all had mild OA and randomly gave them either a placebo or a daily gelatin supplement. It contained 10 grams of gelatin (or 1 tablespoon) in addition to vitamin C and calcium.
Before people began taking the supplements, researchers evaluated their levels of knee pain, stiffness, flexibility, joint strength, and mobility. Overall, both groups improved in all the areas mentioned at eight and fourteen weeks into the study.
However, the group consuming gelatin every day showed significant improvements in comparison to the other group when it came to specific strength and work performance tests. 
Alternatives for Improving Cartilage Health
If you want to explore other alternatives that improve cartilage health, check out Hyaluronic acid and Silicea gel.
Hyaluronic acid is a clear lubricant that your body produces naturally. It is found in skin, eye sockets, and joints. You can use it to nourish skin, reduce eye discomfort, and lubricate achy joints. 
Silicea gel is a silicon water-based gel. It includes other synthetic materials that are known to absorb and maintain moisture. Researchers understand Silicea gel to absorb toxins and promote skin health. It also deposits essential minerals in your bones, which can aid in your body’s healing process.
In the meantime, you’ll probably be in a lot of pain while you rehabilitate. So, great alternative to painkillers is this wearable acupressure from aculief. You simply wear it on your hand for as long as you want to kill pain throughout the day.
Disclaimer: This information is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health providers with any questions about your medical condition and/or current medication. Do not disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking advice or treatment because of something you have read here.
 Arthritis Foundation. (n.d.). What is Osteoarthritis? Retrieved from http://www.arthritis.org/about-arthritis/types/osteoarthritis/what-is-osteoarthritis.php
 National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases. (2014, November). What Is Osteoarthritis? Retrieved from https://www.niams.nih.gov/health_info/osteoarthritis/osteoarthritis_ff.asp
 Mayo Clinic. (2015, February 27). Bone spurs. Retrieved from http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/bone-spurs/basics/definition/con-20024478
 Hitti, M. (2006, March 9). Coaxing Knee Cartilage to Regrow. Retrieved from http://www.webmd.com/osteoarthritis/news/20060309/coaxing-knee-cartilage-to-regrow
 Hospital for Special Surgery. (2016, March 4). Procedures to Repair Damaged Knee Cartilage Show Promise in Treating Patients Over 40. Retrieved from https://www.hss.edu/newsroom_hss-study-cartilage-repair-effective-treatment-for-middle-aged-patients.asp
 Hills, J. (2017, February 09). Get Rid of Joint, Back and Knee Pain with This Food. Retrieved from http://www.healthyandnaturalworld.com/gelatin-can-reduce-pain-associated-osteoarthritis/
 Osterweil, N. (2000, September 25). Stiff Knees? Take Some Gelatin, Study Suggests. Retrieved from http://www.webmd.com/pain-management/knee-pain/news/20000925/stiff-knees-take-some-gelatin-study-suggests?page=2
 Dr. Axe. (2017, March 30). Hyaluronic Acid: Your Very Own Anti-Aging Acid. Retrieved from https://draxe.com/hyaluronic-acid/
 Adams, A. (2011, May 22). What Are the Benefits of Dietary Silica Gel? Retrieved from http://www.livestrong.com/article/448335-what-are-the-benefits-of-dietary-silica-gel/
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