I have an autoimmune disease that, in addition to other delightful symptoms, causes a good bit of joint pain. Although I’m on medication to treat the disease, I’ve still found myself cutting down on some of the things I love to do. When it hurts so much I can barely get out of bed to get my kids ready for school, there’s little chance that I’m going to be shooting my bow that morning.

So I was intrigued when I noticed a friend’s Facebook post about a product called Play Again Now. This gel delivers liquid hyaluronic acid and MSM orally to combat soreness. A number of high-profile athletes swear by it.

This was how my discovery of Play Again Now played out:

Actual Me: Ooh, look at this! It looks like it might help with my joint pain.

Skeptical Me: Sure, it will. Just like that $50 bottle of juice that girl tried to sell you was going to boost your immune system and cure every ailment known to man.

Actual Me: Yeah, thanks for not letting me buy that. But this has some pretty impressive testimonials.

Skeptical Me: Let’s not put too much weight on testimonials, okay? Anything that really works will stand up to a placebo-controlled double-blind clinical study.

Actual Me: Huh. This says it was found effective in a placebo-controlled double-blind clinical study.

Skeptical Me: Let me see that.

With my skeptical self now on board, I started doing some research. Play Again Now isn’t exactly cheap – one bottle goes for around $40 on Amazon – and I wanted to learn more about it before I invested that kind of money.

“Like A Legal Way To Cheat”

One person who’s happy to share his experience with Play Again Now is Ray Tincher. Tincher, 32, started taking Play Again Now about a year ago after learning about it from American Ninja Warrior Finalist David Yarter.

“I had some knee pain, some shoulder pain,” said Tincher. “And when I was in high school I was in a wreck and had some neck pain. I felt like my shoulder and knee were holding me back from training as well as I wanted to.

“The difference is night and day. Maybe not night and day, but it amazes me when I can do a pretty extreme event and be muscle-pain free – no joint pain or anything – within two days. It’s almost like a legal way to cheat. I’m back to feeling super-human. I feel like I’m 20 years old instead of being 32. I know that’s not a big difference, but I know what it was like when I was 20 – I could go all day, every day, and never hurt.”

Twice in the last year, Tincher has inadvertently run out of Play Again Now and had a short window before his next bottle arrived, giving him a chance to do his own unofficial study. Both times, the pain returned once he was off Play Again Now for more than a couple days and went away when he started taking it again.

As for the neck pain, Tincher said, “It’s like I never had that accident.”

The Science

So what is hyaluronic acid? According to WebMD (where all good science information comes from, right?), it’s “a substance that is naturally present in the human body. It is found in the highest concentrations in fluids in the eyes and joints.” It has a number of medical applications, and it’s used by skin care companies in anti-aging creams.

$50 juice this is not.

I spoke with Play Again Now’s Christy Newland, who swears by the product herself.

“I know it may sound like snake oil, but we believe the testimonials and clinical research show that it really does work,” she said. “Our success rate is 90 percent. Obviously, some people will be in that 10 percent that it doesn’t work for. But compare that to the success rate of glucosamine chondroitin, which is about 11 percent.

“We want to reach people who’ve tried popping ibuprofen every day and think that’s just a fact of life. It doesn’t have to be anymore,” Newland adds.

My Results

Convinced? I was. I ordered two bottles of Play Again Now from Amazon. (Note: I did not receive free product for this review). The instructions say to take 3 tablespoons of the product daily for the first two weeks as part of the “doping” stage, then take 2-3 tablespoons daily. Hyaluronic acid clears your system in 36 hours, so if you stop taking it, you’ll notice it pretty quickly.

Play Again Now is a gel, so it’s a little weird to take. I was advised to keep it in the fridge, and I do think taking it cold probably helps. It says that it’s “Berry Flavored,” and the taste is not awful. It’s not amazing, but it’s doable.

Play Again Now’s website says it takes up to two weeks to see results, although Newland told me that many people start to feel better after just 3 days.

That’s how it was for me. I woke up on the fourth day and went downstairs. We have a little bench in our mudroom, and every morning when I sit down to put my shoes on, I experience significant knee pain. That morning, I sat down and my knees didn’t hurt. Not even a little bit.

It wasn’t until the pain was gone that I realized how much it had been affecting my life. I may not ever be the athlete that Tincher is, but that’s not what I needed from Play Again Now. Since I started taking it, I can get out of bed without having to steel myself against the pain. I can pick up my 4-year-old son and not have to take ibuprofen afterwards. I can type this article without having to ice down my knuckles.

And, yes. I can shoot my bow again.