Glucosamine and chondoitin sulphate are two of the most popular dietary supplements sold today. They are most famous for treating arthritis and other joint pain conditions. However, the research on its effectiveness is markedly mixed. There have been some studies that show significant benefit, and others that do not.
One recent double-blind placebo-controlled study evaluated the efficacy of glucosamine and chondroitin sulphate compared to Celebrex or a placebo for painful knee arthritis over the course of two years. This study divided 662 patients with knee arthritis into five different treatment groups. The groups were: glucosamine (1500mg/day), chondroitin sulphate (1200mg/day), glucosamine + chondroitin sulphate, celecoxib (Celebrex 200mg/day), and placebo. After two years results were collected to evaluate which patients achieved a meaningful improvement in their arthritis symptoms.
The results found that none of the groups achieved statistically significant improvement compared to the placebo treatment. However, the celecoxib and the glucosamine groups did have the highest percentage of patients achieve a meaningful improvement in arthritis symptoms.
Therefore, the results of this trial do NOT confirm that a significantly greater effectiveness is seen with glucosamine and chondroitin sulphate supplementation compared to celecoxib or a placebo for the treatment of knee arthritis. However, due to its comparable effectiveness to traditional pharmacologic treatment as well as its increased safety, it is reasonable to recommend a trial course of use for people suffering from arthritic knee pain.
- Sawitzke AD et al. Clinical efficacy and safety of glucosamine, chondroitin sulphate, their combination, celecoxib or placebo taken to treat osteoarthritis of the knee: 2-year results from GAIT. Ann Rheum Dis. 2010 Aug;69(8):1459-64. Epub 2010 Jun 4.