Collagen and joints
Collagen is a major structural protein found in the joints, and its absence or decrease can impact their health and function.
- Loss of strength and flexibility : Collagen is responsible for the strength and flexibility of joint tissues, such as cartilage and ligaments. When there is a decrease in collagen, these tissues become more fragile and less able to withstand stress and movement, which can lead to joint pain and reduced mobility.
- Cartilage breakdown : Articular cartilage, which covers the ends of bones, is mostly made up of collagen. Collagen gives cartilage its structure and resilience, allowing joints to move smoothly. When there is a lack of collagen, the cartilage can weaken and break down more easily, leading to wear and tear, increased friction and eventually osteoarthritis.
- Decreased regeneration : collagen is also involved in the regeneration process of joint tissues. It provides a structural matrix for cells that repair and regenerate damaged tissue. Without enough collagen, the body's ability to repair joint damage can be compromised, which can lead to slower recovery and progressive joint deterioration.
- Impaired joint lubrication : Collagen plays a role in the production of synovial fluid, which lubricates joints and facilitates smooth movement. When collagen is insufficient, synovial fluid production can be affected, leading to decreased joint lubrication and increased friction between joint surfaces.
Collagen, tendons and tendinopathy
A lack of collagen in the body can impact tendons and contribute to the development of tendinopathy.
- Structural role of tendons: tendons are fibrous tissues that connect muscles to bones. They are mainly composed of type I collagen, which constitutes about 90% of their composition.
- Decreased strength and elasticity : When there is a lack of collagen, tendons can lose their strength and elasticity. This can make tendons more fragile and less able to withstand stress and strain, increasing the risk of injury and tendinopathy.
- Impairment of regeneration: Collagen plays a crucial role in the process of tendon repair and regeneration. When collagen is lacking, tendons' ability to repair themselves after injury or overuse can be impaired. This can lead to slower healing and degeneration of the tendons, thus promoting the onset of tendinopathy.
- Extracellular matrix imbalance : Collagen is a major component of the extracellular matrix of tendons, which is responsible for their structure and function. A lack of collagen can disturb the balance of this matrix, thus compromising the quality and the resistance of the tendons. This can promote the onset of inflammation, degeneration, and pain associated with tendinopathy.
The proven benefits of collagen on joints and tendons
Here is an overview of the main findings:
- Reduced joint pain : Collagen supplementation may help reduce joint pain in people with osteoarthritis or other joint conditions. Participants reported decreased pain, improved joint mobility, and better quality of life.
- Improved joint function : Taking collagen can improve joint function, including increasing the strength and flexibility of tendons and ligaments. This can help prevent injury and promote faster recovery after strenuous physical activity.
- Regeneration of connective tissues : collagen supplementation can stimulate the regeneration and repair of these tissues, thus promoting their health and optimal functioning.
- Protective effects against joint damage : Some clinical trials have suggested that collagen may have protective effects against joint damage. A reduction in inflammation and cartilage degradation has been observed, as well as an improvement in bone density.
It is important to note that the results of clinical studies may vary depending on the study protocols, the doses of collagen used and the populations studied.
Lists of clinical studies
- Clark KL et al. (2008): This study evaluated the effects of collagen on the symptoms of osteoarthritis of the knee. Participants took either a placebo or a type collagen supplement for 90 days. The results showed a significant reduction in joint pain and stiffness in participants taking the type II collagen compared to the placebo group.
- Bagchi D et al. (2016): This study investigated the effects of type I and type III collagen supplementation on joint pain in athletes undergoing intensive training. Participants took the collagen supplement for 24 weeks. The results showed a significant decrease in pain and an improvement in joint function in athletes taking the collagen compared to the placebo group.
- Porfirio E et al. (2020): This study evaluated the effects of a type I collagen supplement on joint function and pain in people with knee osteoarthritis. Participants took the collagen supplement for 6 months. The results showed significant improvement in joint function and reduction in pain in participants taking the collagen compared to the placebo group.
- McAlindon T et al. (2011): This study investigated the effects of collagen supplementation on symptoms of knee osteoarthritis in overweight or obese people. Participants took the collagen supplement for 6 months. The results showed significant improvement in pain and joint function in participants taking the collagen compared to the placebo group.