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Glucosamine and Chondroitin…
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Glucosamine and Chondroitin Conundrum

January 16, 2019
Closeup of a bottle of nutritional supplements.

Many people take dietary supplements such as glucosamine and chondroitin to ease arthritis pain and promote joint health. Current research shows that these supplements have limited benefits for people with arthritis and joint pain. Glucosamine is a component of your healthy cartilage, especially around joints. Glucosamine for supplements is harvested from shells of shellfish or made in a laboratory. Chondroitin is also made by your body and a major cartilage component. Chondroitin can be manufactured from the cartilage of animals, cows, pigs or even sharks, or made in a laboratory. The supplements are sold as glucosamine sulfate and chondroitin sulfate. The first phase of the Glucosamine/Chondroitin Arthritis Intervention Trial (GAIT) found that the combination of glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate provided relief for participants with moderate-to-severe joint pain, but there was no effect on the group with mild pain. A 2011 study published in the journal Arthritis and Rheumatism reported that glucosamine and chondroitin supplements offer modest pain relief and improved joint function, but do not work for everyone. These modest benefits from the supplements are estimated at 10% improvement, which takes up to 3 months to realize.

Will glucosamine and chondroitin work for you? Try them in place of NSAIDs for two to three months. NSAIDs relieve pain faster but may cause serious side effects. If glucosamine and chondroitin ease your pain, the reasonable course of action is to keep taking them. Good news! Both supplements are safe to take long-term. But if you experience no relief, save your money. Talk with your DOC orthopedic surgeon about your joint pain and dysfunction and any supplements you take for relief. DOC orthopedists and pain management specialists may recommend alternative treatments for pain and joint wellness. 

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Arthritis Foundation

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