I have a client in her early 40's with arthritis in her knees. Will glucosamine help and if so, how quickly and how much should she take?
Glucosamine and chondroitin sulfates have been successfully used to reduce joint pain, tenderness and lack of mobility associated with osteoarthritis.1,2,3,4 This form of arthritis is due to the cartilage (the hard, slippery, protective layer that covers bone ends) wearing away, exposing the nerve rich bone ends leading to pain, swelling and reduced range of motion. Typically this is due to age, overweight and chronic use and abuse, such as sports and in particular running.
Several studies have shown the administration of chondroitin and glucosamine to be as effective in treating the symptoms of osteoarthritis, without the side effects seen with chronic NSAID (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) use.2,5,6 NSAID’s, as with any drug, prescription or over-the-counter, have side effects; most commonly gastrointestinal effects and stress and damage to the liver. Studies that demonstrated effectiveness in reducing joint pain used 1500mg of glucosamine5 and 1200mg of chondroitin, divided into three daily doses. How quickly one responds to supplementation of these substances varies. Research and anecdotal feedback suggest that the user should evaluate its effectiveness for up to two months. If improvement is not noticed after that interval, it is unlikely that glucosamine and chondroitin will benefit the user.
Another area of interest is chronic use of glucosamine to prevent progression of osteoarthritis. A three-year study showed that 1500mg of glucosamine prevented progression of osteoarthristis in the knee. 7
In conclusion, for those that experience joint pain associated with osteoarthritis, glucosamine and chondroitin sulfates offer a safe, viable alternative to NSAID use.
The Apex Fitness Group makes a glucosamine and chondroitin formula called Joint Support Formula. The feedback I have gotten over the years from users of these substances has been positive, with the majority feeling it improved their symptoms significantly.
- Ruane, R, Griffiths, P. Glucosamine therapy compared to ibuprofen for joint pain. Br J Community Nurs. 2002 Mar;7(3):148-52
- Nguyen P, Mohamed SE, Gardiner D, Salinas T. A randomized double-blind clinical trial of the effect of chondroitin sulfate and glucosamine hydrochloride on temporomandibular joint disorders: a pilot study. Cranio 2001 Apr;19(2):130-9.
- Towheed TE, Anastassiades TP, Shea B, Houpt J, Welch V, Hochberg MC. Glucosamine therapy for treating osteoarthritis. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2001;(1):CD002946. Review
- Brief AA, Maurer SG, Di Cesare PE. Use of glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate in the management of osteoarthritis. J Am Acad Orthop Surg. 2001 Mar-Apr;9(2):71-8. Review.
- Muller-Fassbender H, Bach GL, Haase W, Rovati LC, Setnikar I. Glucosamine sulfate compared to ibuprofen in osteoarthritis of the knee. Osteoarthritis Cartilage. 1994 Mar;2(1):61-9.
- Noack W, Fischer M, Forster KK, Rovati LC, Setnikar I. Glucosamine sulfate in osteoarthritis of the knee. Osteoarthritis Cartilage. 1994 Mar;2(1):51-9.
- Reginster JY, Deroisy R, Rovati LC, Lee RL, Lejeune E, Bruyere O, Giacovelli G, Henrotin Y, Dacre JE, Gossett C. Long-term effects of glucosamine sulphate on osteoarthritis progression: a randomised, placebo-controlled clinical trial. Lancet. 2001 Jan 27;357(9252):251-6