Glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate

Q: Do you think taking glucosamine or chondroitin sulfate can help alleviate arthritis pain?

A: People who suffer from a type of arthritis called osteoarthritis may benefit from taking a combination of glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate. These substances can, in some cases, increase the production of joint cartilage to help replace the cartilage that has deteriorated due to wear and tear. Cartilage serves to protect joints, preventing painful friction.

A six-month study published in the September 2000 issue of Osteoarthritis and Cartilage revealed that a combination of glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate could aid in the management of mild to moderate osteoarthritis, particularly of the knee. The study involved 93 patients with knee osteoarthritis who were split into two groups. A treatment group was given a glucosamine/chondroitin sulfate compound and manganese twice a day. A control group received a placebo. Patients in both groups were evaluated before, during and after the study by physical examinations, functional status questionnaires and x-ray analysis.

The study, the first of its kind in the U.S., found that a significant improvement was noted in patients with mild to moderate knee arthritis in the treatment group. However, patients with severe arthritis did not show significant improvements.