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Glucosamine plus Chondroitin as effective for severe knee osteoarthritis as prescribed drug

Posted 25 February 2015 12:00 AM by Dr Sarah Brewer
Glucosamine And Chondroitin

A robust, international study has shown that glucosamine hydrochloride plus chondroitin sulphate supplements are as effective in treating severe knee osteoarthritis as the prescribed anti-inflammatory drug, celecoxib.

The study, carried out in France, Germany, Poland and Spain, involved over 600 patients aged 40 or over, with both x-ray evidence of knee osteoarthritis and severe pain.

One group was randomised to take standard doses of glucosamine hydrochloride (1500mg daily) plus chondroitin sulphate (1200mg daily) and another group took the non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug celecoxib (200mg daily) for 6 months. Participants were allowed to take up to 3g per day of paracetamol as rescue medication, if needed, except during the 48 hours before clinical evaluation.

After 6 months, the response rate for both treatments was identical (79%). Both groups showed a greater than 50% reduction in symptoms of pain, stiffness, swelling and joint effusions.

The need for paracetamol was low throughout the study, and similar between treatment groups except during the first month, when those taking glucosamine plus chondroitin used paracetamol more often before the anti-inflammatory action of their supplements kicked in. After the first month, use of paracetamol was similar in both groups.

The authors of the study state that it provides robust data to demonstrate the long-term effectiveness and safety of chondroitin sulfate plus glucosamine hydrochloride in the management of knee osteoarthritis causing severe pain.

Let’s hope it changes evidence-based guidelines that, until now, have focussed on topical treatments and oral analgesics, while dismissing these supplements for lack of effectiveness!

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Reference: Hochberg MC et al. Combined chondroitin sulfate and glucosamine for painful knee osteoarthritis: a multicentre, randomised, double-blind, non-inferiority trial versus celecoxib. Ann Rheum Dis. 2015 Jan 14.  [Epub ahead of print]

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