Glucosamine and chondroitin for osteoarthritis

December 19, 2017   |   Evidence in Integrative Healthcare

Glucosamine and chondroitin are both produced  naturally in the body and are structural components of cartilage. In general chondroitin alone, has not been shown to be effective in reducing pain in hip or knee arthritis. Supplements containing glucosamine alone, or a combination, may be all that’s needed to achieve results. However, chondroitin alone did not show positive results. Several small studies using combinations of chondroitin and glucosamine show improvements in osteoarthritis of the hand and jaw, while use for hip and knee pain were reported to be helped only in moderate to severe pain patients. Mild pain patients did not experience significant relief. Results for use on low back pain patients showed they fared the same as placebo.

Contraindications for use should be noted with patients on Coumadin (warfarin), or other blood thinning agents and with diabetic or pre-diabetic patients. Glucosamine may impair blood sugar systems in the body. One study showed long term, moderate doses of glucosamine, damaged kidneys in rats. Although animal studies may not apply to people, this study does raise concern.

Providers may wish to prescribe glucosamine alone or a combination supplement for use with hand and jaw pain, or for moderate to severe hip and knee pain, if the patients are not blood sugar compromised, or on blood thinners.

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