Does glucosamine really help arthritis?
Glucosamine is a dietary supplement that many people take to treat arthritis. But does it really work? Not according to the first large, long-term study testing it on people suffering from chronic lower back pain caused by arthritis.
The theory is that glucosamine alleviates back pain by restoring cartilage and reducing inflammation. But the evidence for its effectiveness has been mixed. So researchers at Oslo University Hospital in Norway gave 250 patients suffering from chronic lower back pain from arthritis either 1,500 milligrams of glucosamine or a placebo every day for six months.
After six months, the researchers found there was no significant difference in the amount of pain the patients were experiencing regardless of whether they were taking glucosamine or the placebo, the researchers reported in Wednesday's issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association. There was no difference after a year, either.
The researchers point out that other studies have produced some evidence that glucosamine can help alleviate arthritis pain in other parts of the body, such as the knee and hip. But in an editorial accompanying the findings, Andrew Avins of Northern California-Kaiser Permanente says the new study is about as good as it gets when it comes to testing a medical treatment, and the results are disappointing. Avins says the findings illustrate the need for good quality research into treatments for lower back pain, especially given what a big problem it is.
July 7, 2010; 7:00 AM ET
Categories: Alternative and Complementary Medicine , Chronic Conditions , Disabilities
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