General Question

ETpro's avatar

How much help might glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate offer for osteoarthritis?

Asked by ETpro (34472points) May 24th, 2010

The NIH and other credible scientific authorities have studied glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate and found some benefit to some people. They have as yet stopped short of recommending taking it as a supplement. For the medical professionals here, what’s the latest. For sufferers, has it helped you at all. Is it worth the price?

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16 Answers

NRO's avatar

One cannot tell, because the dosages are not under FDA scrutiny

gailcalled's avatar

Personally, I have found Omega -3 fish oil, ground flaxseed oil and vitamin D3 affords me a lot of relief. The gluc/chond did nothing for me, but my sister’s dogs love it and seem springier since they started taking it. They also each get ½ a can of sardines in oil and a fresh egg daily.

dpworkin's avatar

My understanding is that preliminary studies show no effect greater than placebo.

perspicacious's avatar

I have read a lot about this. There are studies that show people get some relief. It seems to be slight and requires dosages way above what is recommended on the label. I’ve never heard a personal testimony to it’s effectiveness.

The last study I read about is here: http://nccam.nih.gov/research/results/gait/qa.htm#c1

ETpro's avatar

@gailcalled Ask your sister if I can move in and feast on sardines along with the pooches. :-)

@dpworkin THe NIH study did confirm results. But not all of the participants receiving the actual supplement instead of the placebo noticed any change.

@perspicacious Ouch. A big bottle will set me back nearly $70 and taking them like candy can get costly.

perspicacious's avatar

@ETpro Well, of course not. Have you ever read a study where 100% of the participants had a positive effect?

dpworkin's avatar

I’d have to read the study before I could evaluate it. What was N? Was it double-blind? What was a “positive” result? Was it self-report, or measured in some empirical way (e.g., measurement of span of motion)? Any conflicts (sponsorship by a marketer?)

perspicacious's avatar

@dpworkin * Participants taking the positive control, celecoxib, experienced statistically significant pain relief versus placebo—about 70 percent of those taking celecoxib had a 20 percent or greater reduction in pain versus about 60 percent for placebo.
* Overall, there were no significant differences between the other treatments tested and placebo.
* For a subset of participants with moderate-to-severe pain, glucosamine combined with chondroitin sulfate provided statistically significant pain relief compared with placebo—about 79 percent had a 20 percent or greater reduction in pain versus about 54 percent for placebo. According to the researchers, because of the small size of this subgroup these findings should be considered preliminary and need to be confirmed in further studies.
* For participants in the mild pain subset, glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate together or alone did not provide statistically significant pain relief.

http://nccam.nih.gov/research/results/gait/qa.htm#c1

dpworkin's avatar

That does not reveal how “pain” was measured. If it was measured through self-report, I am skeptical.

perspicacious's avatar

It was measured as moderate-to-severe, or mild.

dpworkin's avatar

By whom? By what metric? They could have measured it as 1 to 5, or Blue-to-Red and I would still have the same questions. Who said it was mild? How did they know?

ETpro's avatar

@dpworkin The Study was conducted by the National Institutes for Health. See more here.

ETpro's avatar

@Rarebear Thanks so much. It is a big help to fin one site that brings the disparate studies together.

Rarebear's avatar

@ETpro The Cochrane Collaboration is the best for metaanalyses. It can be a bit much to navigate through some times, though.

dpworkin's avatar

Quote: Pain: The high quality studies showed that pain improved about the same whether people took glucosamine or fake pills.

That’s pretty much what I said several posts ago.

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