Joint pain can be a downright debilitating condition that affects your quality of life. There are many supplements today that can help with joint pain, one of the more popular ones being collagen. A protein crucial for maintaining the structure of your joints, collagen is shown to help with joint pain and connective tissue repair in some cases. But how long does it take to work? This article aims to answer that, explaining the role of collagen in both the short-term and long-term aspect of joint health.
TL;DR ARTICLE SUMMARY
It takes between 3-6 months for collagen to show its full effects. Don’t get discouraged, though, because it can start working in as little as 2-3 weeks in some people. It all depends. Joint pain and inflammation is a very complex process. Typically, it takes months to undo the damage caused by chronic inflammation and oxidative stress. But it’s worth being patient.
What is Collagen?
Collagen is the most abundant protein in the human body. Making up about 1/3 of your body’s protein content.
It’s one of the essential building blocks of your bones, skin, muscles, tendons, and ligaments, to name just a few. 
Collagen is also found in your blood vessels, corneas, and teeth – we could go on and on, you get the idea.
Now, there is more than just one type of collagen. The four main ones are collagen type I, II, III, and IV. Each type has a unique role and is found in different parts of your body.
Type I collagen is the most common one and is found in all connective tissues such as your skin and bones.
Type II collagen, meanwhile hangs around mainly in your joints and intervertebral discs. This is the one we’ll be focusing on today; it’s the one most joint supplements use.
The Role of Collagen in Joint Pain
Collagen plays a vital role in keeping your joints healthy and robust. First and foremost it helps to maintain the integrity of the cartilage, the rubber-like tissue that that sort of cushions your joints. Sadly our collagen production goes down as we age, this can make joint pain and osteoarthritis pop rear their ugly heads over time.
This is where supplementation comes it. It’s been shown that Type II collagen helps to reduce joint pain and inflammation by replenishing your collagen levels and even aiding in the repair of cartilage.
Collagen type II specifically may promote the formation of regulatory T cells in the gut, which then travel throughout your body and lessen inflammation in your joints.
Collagen Supplements for Joint Pain
As we said, because of the crucial role of collagen in maintaining joint health, it’s no surprise that collagen supplements are available at every corner today. These supplements are typically made from animal tissues like the bones, skin, and connective tissue (fish, cows, and chickens are the main ones).
Now, here’s the thing. While beneficial for long-term joint health to some extent, collagen is far from the best supplement for joint pain specifically.
It’s more of a “multivitamin” kind of supplement for your joints.  You don’t necessarily feel it, but that doesn’t mean it’s not doing anything! With that said, there are exceptions to this, as some people have been shown to have less pain from taking collagen. 
When you consume collagen supplements, they’re broken down into amino acids and peptides in your digestive system. These components are then absorbed and used to build new collagen in your body.
Different versions of collagen supplements are available. Including undenatured type II collagen (UC-II) and hydrolyzed collagen.
UC-II works by introducing collagen to the immune system, which helps it recognize and not attack your own collagen in the joints. On the other hand, hydrolyzed collagen is broken down into smaller peptides, which are thought to be easier for your body to absorb and use.
They both work similarly though and are shown to be equally as effective. Denatured collagen is better in higher doses (up to 10g per day) to help with joint repair, whereas undenatured collagen can be taken in doses as low as 40mg and it will still work for joint pain to some extent.
How Long Does it Take for Collagen to Work?
The time it takes for collagen supplements to work is not a one-size-fits-all answer unfortunately. Factors such as the severity of your joint pain, your age, and the type and dosage of collagen supplement can all influence how quickly you see results.
Roughly speaking, most people start to see some improvement in their joint pain after 2 to 3 months of taking collagen supplements regularly (key word is regularly here, don’t neglect it and expect lasting results).
The longer you take it, though, the more benefits you should notice—peaking at around 6 months of daily supplementation.
Potential Side Effects of Collagen Supplements
While collagen supplements are generally safe for most people, they can cause side effects in some cases. 
Occasional side effects include digestive upset and diarrhea. Some people may also have an allergic reaction to collagen supplements as they can be made from shellfish or eggs. Always read the label.
Just like with any other product, not all collagen supplements are created equal. The quality can vary between brands with some sadly containing harmful contaminants. Do your research before rushing into the store and buying the first collagen you see (the same applies to online shopping). It should be third party tested and cGMP manufactured.
Collagen supplements can really be helpful in managing your joint pain and stiffness, but it takes time to work.
If you expect it to work within a week, you might be disappointed. But with patience, you can expect the first results within 4-6 weeks of daily supplementation. For some people, it could be even sooner – it all depends on each person’s unique bodily chemistry.
Generally speaking, studies show us that up to 6 months the benefits accumulate. So the longer you take it the less joint pain you may be feeling.
Choose a high-quality collagen product and start with a lower dosage, such as 40mg in the case of undenatured collagen, or 2g if taking denatured collagen, and go from there.
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