Glucosamine Only Offers Placebo Relief For Lower Back Pain

By ACSH Staff — Jul 07, 2010
The results of a recent small clinical trial indicate that the popular supplement glucosamine is only as effective as a sugar pill for treating lower back pain. While limited studies have only shown its promise as a pain reliever for arthritic knee pain, many patients also attempt to alleviate lower back pain with glucosamine.

The results of a recent small clinical trial indicate that the popular supplement glucosamine is only as effective as a sugar pill for treating lower back pain. While limited studies have only shown its promise as a pain reliever for arthritic knee pain, many patients also attempt to alleviate lower back pain with glucosamine.

Skeptical of the clinical trial s results, Dr. Andrew Shao of the Council for Responsible Nutrition a trade association for dietary supplements tells WebMD that the conclusions are premature and that because low back pain is a very broad kind of term ¦It is a tall order for something to affect such a global condition.

ACSH's Jeff Stier challenges, Where are the studies showing its efficacy for specific back problems? Defenders of herbal remedies argue that since they cannot patent the medicines, there is no incentive to invest in the expensive studies necessary to prove efficacy. For glucosamine, however, we actually have a study, small as it may be, that says it is no more effective than a placebo for lower back pain. So, if someone still thinks that these results are too generalized, then they need to pick a spot on the body and conduct a study on that.

For ACSH's Dr. Elizabeth Whelan, these results come as no surprise. We urge consumers to beware of dietary supplements as a cure for what ails them.