Glucosamine, Chondroitin not such a relief for knee pain

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Glucosamine and chondroitin aren’t effective at relieving arthritis pain, according to a new analysis of 10 studies involving 3,800 people published in BMJ on Friday. The popular supplements, either together or separately, didn’t do any better than a placebo in terms of reducing pain or slowing loss of knee cartilage, the study found.

“It’s very interesting, the authors say that the combo doesn’t hurt you — it doesn’t help you either. So if you want to take it, go ahead,” says ACSH’s Dr. Elizabeth Whelan. “But that’s no way to live your life!”

“There is no solid evidence that any medication has a beneficial impact on the progression of osteoarthritis,” says ACSH’s Dr. Gilbert Ross. “What I’m talking about is joint space narrowing and the eventual progression of disease becoming severe enough to warrant surgery.”

(In July we noted a previous study showing glucosamine doesn’t help to relieve lower back pain.)

But ACSH’s Jeff Stier says he’s not convinced the supplements have no value. “This study, a meta-analysis, contradicts some earlier evidence that glucosamine and chondroitin reduce pain...when taken jointly.”