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I've heard that I can take glucosamine and chondroitin sulphate supplements to prevent damage to my fingers when I'm climbing. Is it true, or is just an old wives' tale?

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Anyone else think this might be a candidate for migration to Skeptics? – Laura Jan 25 '12 at 15:58
@Laura Or perhaps Fitness and Nutrition? – Jasper Jan 26 '12 at 7:12
I take glucosamine and have found it to be a highly effective placebo. – xpda Jan 26 '12 at 19:58
@Laura Perhaps, though personally I think there's enough of an overlap to make it ok! – berry120 Jan 30 '12 at 20:27
Sounds like a valid concern for climbers, so I'm happy to have it here. – Miguel Madero Sep 10 '12 at 1:32
up vote 8 down vote accepted

Glucosamine is for cartilage, and finger pain from climbing is probably tendon problems.

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I've not done much climbing, but back when I was studying a hard martial art that included joint-locks, throws, and tumbling (and no shortage of bending joints in directions nature never intended); I found that glucosamine/condroitin supplements minimized the pain from those nagging day-after aches, and in many cases took away entirely.

I'm not a doctor, and I'm not finding a link to the study but IIRC, the FDA or NIH did a study on glucosamine/chondroitin supplements for arthritis pain and found it didn't work significantly above placebo.

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People say it's a placebo. But when we switched our dog (on vet's advice) to food with glucosamine in it, she was able to go up and down stairs that she couldn't before. (I mean she could when she was younger, but then could no longer, then the food switch and she could do the stairs again.) That's when I started taking it myself. I don't think dogs are smart enough to have a placebo effect :-) – Kate Gregory Nov 26 '12 at 13:07

I've had a very large number of finger and tendon injuries over 20 years of climbing. Personally, I've found glucosamine helpful in improving recovery and preventing injury. However, anecdotal-y chondritin doesn't seem to have had much demonstrable effect for the few guys I know who've used it.

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