Exercise May Help Knees More Than Glucosamine And Chondroitin
October 14, 2013
The vast majority of patients reported no significant difference in pain relief between glucosamine, chondroitin, a combination of the two and placebo.
In all, 60 percent of patients taking the sugar pill said their pain was reduced by about 20 percent, while 66 percent of those taking the supplements reported similar pain reduction.
The results were published in 2006 in the New England Journal of Medicine.
But for a small subset of patients, those with moderate to severe arthritis pain in a knee, there was some benefit.
“About 79 percent had a 20 percent or greater reduction in pain, compared to about 54 percent for placebo,” says Dr. Allen Sawitzke, a rheumatologist at the University of Utah Hospital and Clinics and co-leader of the GAIT study.
“So some patients who have severe pain may get more benefit than somebody who’s got a mild case.”
Because the number of patients in that group was so small, Sawitzke cautions that finding is only preliminary and needs to be confirmed by further study.
Two large studies currently underway, one in Europe and one in Australia, may help answer that question.
They’re expected to wrap up within one year, which Sawitzke says “will either reopen the debate or put an end to it, depending on the results.”
Pretty much any type of exercise seems to reduce pain and increase flexibility, according to Felson.
“There have been a variety of different exercise studies which have tried everything from water aerobics to walking to muscle strengthening, and they all seem to work.”
Glucosamine, Chondroitin Sulfate, and the Two in Combination for Painful Knee Osteoarthritis
N Engl J Med 2006; 354:795-808