MSM: Should You Take it For Chronic Joint Pain?

MSM (Methylsulfonylmethane) is an organic sulfur-containing compound that has become increasingly popular for its potential to support joint health. It is used primarily to manage osteoarthritis. MSM may help reduce symptoms of chronic joint pain and inflammation, as well as other conditions such as allergies, asthma, and other autoimmune disorders.

MSM is a naturally occurring compound that is a metabolite of dimethylsulfoxide (DMSO). However, MSM does not smell like DMSO does. MSM is a source of sulfur for the synthesis of the amino acids cysteine and methionine and is regulated in the intestine through interaction with the intestinal microbiome.

MSM can be taken orally as a supplement or used topically as a cream.  MSM is found in vegetables, fruits, grains, dairy products, eggs, fish, and meat. It is found in foods such as broccoli, Brussels sprouts, and cabbage. Other MSM-rich foods include eggs, wheat germ and mushrooms, cheese, and milk. MSM may also be purchased as a supplement to increase the amount you get from your diet.

When MSM is taken orally, it helps to improve joint health by providing sulfur which helps to reduce inflammation and promote recovery from injury. MSM may also help support tissue repair, strengthen connective tissues, and improve the body’s ability to absorb nutrients. MSM can help improve joint flexibility and comfort by relieving inflammation in the joints of your body. MSM supplements are available in pill or powder form, as well as topical creams.

MSM can help with joint stiffness

MSM has several potential benefits when taken for chronic joint pain or inflammation. It may help reduce swelling and stiffness, decrease pain levels, decrease degenerative joint changes, and improve the range of motion. MSM can also be used to support healthy skin, hair, nails, and muscle tone. In one study, MSM was combined with Boswellia to reduce joint pain in one group and compared to a group that did not receive the product. While pain overall did not decrease compared to the group not receiving the product, the requirement for anti-inflammatory medication significantly decreased in the MSM/Boswellia group.1

MSM is often combined with other supplements such as glucosamine and chondroitin. In a study using this combination, the study concluded that this combination may reduce pain and improve physical function in patients with knee osteoarthritis.2 In another study of individuals with mild to moderate osteoarthritis, glucosamine combined with MSM in combination produced an analgesic and anti-inflammatory effect. Combination therapy showed better efficacy in reducing pain and swelling and in improving the functional ability of joints than the individual agents.3

The safety profile of MSM is generally good when taken at recommended doses; however, it is important to speak with a healthcare professional before taking MSM for any condition. It is a supplement that is generally considered safe. According to the Natural Medicine Therapeutic Research Database, while adverse reactions are not common, mild side effects such as bloating, diarrhea, gastrointestinal discomfort, and nausea may occur. There are no known interactions with medications. Additionally, MSM should not be taken if pregnant or breastfeeding due to its unknown effects on fetal development. As always, make sure to follow the instructions on the supplement label.

MSM is a promising supplement for those dealing with chronic joint pain and inflammation, but it’s important to keep in mind that individual results may vary. MSM should always be taken as part of an overall health and wellness regimen, alongside other treatments such as physical therapy or medication. It’s also important to speak with a healthcare professional before starting a new supplement routine. Taking MSM for chronic joint pain can help provide relief, but the best way to ensure optimal health is to look for underlying triggers of inflammation and joint pain and by addressing diet and lifestyle factors such as rest/sleep, exercise, and stress management.

**Disclaimer: The content provided here is meant for informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. Please consult your physician before taking any supplements or making changes to your healthcare regimen.**


1.  Notarnicola A, Tafuri S, Fusaro L, Moretti L, Pesce V, Moretti B. The “mESACA” study: Methylsulfonylmethane and boswellic acids in the treatment of gonarthrosis. Adv Ther. 2011;28(10). doi:10.1007/s12325-011-0068-3

2.  Butawan M, Benjamin RL, Bloomer RJ. Methylsulfonylmethane: Applications and safety of a novel dietary supplement. Nutrients. 2017;9(3). doi:10.3390/nu9030290

3.  Usha PR, Naidu MUR. Randomised, double-blind, parallel, placebo-controlled study of oral glucosamine, methylsulfonylmethane and their combination in osteoarthritis. Clin Drug Investig. 2004;24(6). doi:10.2165/00044011-200424060-00005

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