The pain of arthritis can be very difficult to manage. Arthritis does not take vacations. On the other hand, common pain relievers such as diclofenac (prescription), ibuprofen or naproxen can be dangerous if they are taken day after day long term. What sorts of alternatives can be helpful? Some people have found that a supplement called SAM-e helps ease the pain.
Is SAM-e Helpful for Arthritis Pain?
Q. Because of constant pain, I was diagnosed with severe arthritis of the lower back. Before agreeing to invasive treatments, I tried using the supplement SAM-e. For the past six months, I have been in no pain whatsoever!
A. SAM-e, or S-adenosylmethionine, is not a standard treatment for arthritis pain. However, family physicians occasionally recommend it for knee pain because it appears to offer some benefit with little downside (American Family Physician, June 1, 2011). One study appeared to show that after two months it was about as effective as celecoxib (Celebrex) to alleviate knee arthritis pain (BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders, Feb. 26, 2004). In another clinical trial, SAM-e relieved arthritis pain about as well as nabumetone, an NSAID (Clinical Therapeutics, Dec. 2009).
What Is SAM-e?
SAM-e is a natural compound that circulates in the body. However, people with conditions such as arthritis or depression appear to have lower levels than healthy individuals. The recommended dose of 800 to 1600 mg per day (divided into two or three doses to be taken with meals) is the same for both disorders.
Side Effects of SAM-e:
As noted above, most clinicians consider SAM-e to be fairly safe. Side effects are uncommon. Occasionally, however, a person taking SAM-e will experience mania. This might even be a person who has not had a previous manic episode. You can find a more complete summary at Examine.com.