Should I start glucosamine for my arthritis?

The treatment of osteoarthritis requires a team-based approach between your physiotherapist, doctor and specialist to direct you on the best course of treatment for your hip and knee pain. Commonly pain killers (Panadol, Panadol Osteo, Panamax) and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (Voltarin, Nurofen, Mobic, Celebrex) are used to assist with pain and inflammation to settle an arthritic joint.


Drugs which actually modify the condition of osteoarthritis are increasingly being sourced for example, glucosamine and chondroitin. Annually global sales of these products have created a multi billion-dollar industry. Glucosamine is used to make up for the loss of cartilage and chondroitin to provide compressive properties to cartilage. Both of these drugs are taken orally and some of the dose reaches the painful joint.


A study by Wandel 20101 set about determining the effects of glucosamine, chondroitin, or placebo (sugar pill) in patients with osteoarthritis in terms of joint pain and findings on x-ray. Interestingly this study found: no change in joint pain or findings on x-ray. The findings are consistent with the opinions of leading sports medicine physicians and orthopaedic surgeons in Perth, Western Australia.


Recommendations: We see no harm in patients continued use of glucosamine and chondroitin, however research suggests there is no effects when compared to a placebo or sugar pill. Patients should consider receiving other forms of treatment prior to commencing or continuing the use of these drugs.

The WA Health Group team consists of physiotherapists, exercise physiologists and dietitians. Our team is willing to assist you to better manage your osteoarthritis. Our clinic is located in Hilton, Western Australia, and a short drive from the centre of Fremantle.


References:

Wandel S, Jüni P, Tendal B, Nüesch E, Villiger PM, Welton NJ, et al. Effects of glucosamine, chondroitin, or placebo in patients with osteoarthritis of hip or knee: network meta-analysis. BMJ. 2010;341.

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