Less Pain for Osteoarthritis Patients

Report shows that glucosamine and chondroitin led to decreased pain and inflammation

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD Beth Bolt, RPh

(RxWiki News) For patients who have osteoarthritis, aching joints and loss of cartilage can lead to pain and difficulty with movement. Luckily, there are several options for managing this type of arthritis.

A recent report looked at numerous studies on two types of over-the-counter supplements, glucosamine and chondroitin, to see how effective and safe they were.

The authors of the report found that both of the supplements have been successful in managing symptoms and protecting joints in laboratory studies, animal studies and human trials.

The researchers suggested that glucosamine and chondroitin could be effective in the treatment of osteoarthritis and its symptoms, but also emphasized the need for more research on proper dosages.

"Talk to your doctor about all the supplements you use."

Yves Henrotin and Cecile Lambert of the Bone and Cartilage Research Unit in the Institute of Pathology of CHU Sart-Tilman wrote the report, which looked at the use of these two supplements for treating osteoarthritis.

Osteoarthritis is a joint disorder in which joints and cartilage are worn down, leading to pain, stiffness and tenderness. People with osteoarthritis often have difficulty with movement.

Depending on its severity, osteoarthritis can be managed with dietary changes, weight loss, exercise, surgery or medication.

Two compounds are commonly used to treat osteoarthritis: glucosamine and chondroitin. Both of the supplements are sold over the counter in the United States.

The report looked at trials and experiments with these two supplements to examine their effectiveness and safety.

The researchers looked at glucosamine alone, chondroitin alone, and a treatment plan that includes both of the supplements. For each of these options, they examined previous in vitro studies (the effects on cells in a laboratory), animal studies and human trials.

In the human trials that the report reviewed, glucosamine treatment alone sometimes led to reduced pain and improved joint function for osteoarthritis in the knee. The authors emphasized that the effect of glucosamine varied widely based on the dosage.

For chondroitin human trials, 1,200 mg per day of the supplement was shown to reduce pain and increase functionality of joints. Another study demonstrated that the supplement could even slow the disease's progression.

Studies of the two supplements combined have also yielded favorable results. Although few studies have tested glucosamine and chondroitin in combination, osteoarthritis patients in those studies also experienced pain relief and improved function of the knees.

The researchers concluded that both glucosamine and chondroitin could be effective and safe treatments to relieve symptoms of osteoarthritis. However, they noted that more studies would be helpful in determining the correct dosages, particularly of the two supplements in combination.

This research was published in Current Rheumatology Reports in August.

No funding sources were disclosed. The authors disclosed that they had received grants and other financial support from various companies.

Review Date: 
October 3, 2013
Last Updated:
October 3, 2013