October 26, 2021

Study Finds Glucosamine and Chondroitin Safe but Ineffective

Dietary Supplements for Joint Pain

Dietary Supplements for Joint Pain

A new analysis of 10 individual studies involving 3,803 people has determined that glucosamine and chondroitin supplements, taken for joint pain either individually or in combination, do not do much to relieve the pain associated with osteoarthritis.

This is not the first time that the effectiveness of these two supplements has been brought into question by researchers. Previous studies have shown that the supplements did not do any better than a placebo in reducing knee pain or slowing the loss of cartilage caused by osteoarthritis.

Glucosamine and chondroitin nutritional supplements have been widely used for many years by individuals with arthritic knees or hips.  The authors of the study have stated that worldwide sales of the supplements totaled nearly $2 billion in 2008.

The new study, reported today in the British Medical Journal, involved ten large, randomized, controlled studies. Research workers came to the conclusion that patients using the supplements showed no improvement beyond those taking a placebo on measures of pain or any changes in joint space.

Osteoarthritis is normally treated with pain relievers and anti-inflammatory medications. These traditional  treatments carry stomach and cardiovascular risks not associated with glucosamine and chondroitin.

The supplements are safe, the authors note. If people feel better when taking them it is probably due to either the placebo effect or simply the normal healing of joints over time. They see no harm in patients continuing the nutritional supplements if they find them beneficial. However, the researchers added that the treatments should not be covered by insurers but should be paid for by the patients themselves.