Do you knees hurt as much as mine?

Thankfully, my knees don't have to hump firefighter turn-out gear! However, protective gear and additional body-weight can both exert a cumulative effect on the aging hips and knees of public safety personnel.

Previously, I reviewed a recent decision by the EEOC regarding a candidate for federal law enforcement who was denied employment based on the direct threat presented by his prosthetic hip. This is an important finding in part due to the growing prevalence of joint replacement as a treatment option for osteoarthritis (OA) in the adult population. Public safety agencies will need to prepare for important human capital decisions effecting current or prospective employees as joint replacement is increasingly being presented to ever younger patients. 

A little self-disclosure: I was warned by an orthopedist that shoulder replacement was looming for me after extensive repairs were performed in my late 40's. This threat has been made to several peers who required much less extensive surgery, mostly rotator cuff repair. There is also a growing list of public safety people with whom I've worked (and some I grew up playing sports) who had hip replacements in 40's and early 50's. These are folks who can and still give it heck in the gym!

Below is a review of a meta-analysis evaluating the efficacy of collagen supplementation on OA symptoms. OA is one of the most common causes of disability and a prevalent chronic disease from which there is little relief. If you've played hard at work, for instance in public safety, trained hard, engaged in contact or other vigorous sports, or just accumulated unwanted pounds as you collect birthday cards every year, you likely are experiencing the symptoms of OA.

In the meta-analysis below, studies variably employed a health status questionnaire developed for patients with knee and/or hip OA which considers pain, stiffness, and function (WOMAC) or a visual psychometric response scale for evaluating pain (VAS). The results of the meta-analysis showed collagen is effective in improving OA symptoms. Hydrolyzed collagen peptides are eventually broken down into amino acids which enter the bloodstream, join the protein pool, and accumulate in joint cartilage where they may stimulate the biosynthesis of cartilage extracellular matrix. (Here is a review.)

Collagen is packaged by supplement companies in several forms including as a powder, in protein powder, and with other compounds. Read the labels as there is a pretty wide range of "strength" typically expressed as milligrams of peptides. Based on the research evidence presented, I'm going to see if relief is available for my knees! Please let me know if you decide to give it a try.

This article was originally posted on LinkedIn.