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Glucosamine and chondroitin for knee osteoarthritis: a double-blind randomised placebo-controlled clinical trial evaluating single and combination regimens

Abstract

Objective To determine if the dietary supplements, glucosamine and/or chondroitin, result in reduced joint space narrowing (JSN) and pain among people with symptomatic knee osteoarthritis.

Methods A double-blind randomised placebo-controlled clinical trial with 2-year follow-up. 605 participants, aged 45–75 years, reporting chronic knee pain and with evidence of medial tibio-femoral compartment narrowing (but retaining >2 mm medial joint space width) were randomised to once daily: glucosamine sulfate 1500 mg (n=152), chondroitin sulfate 800 mg (n=151), both dietary supplements (n=151) or matching placebo capsules (n=151). JSN (mm) over 2 years was measured from digitised knee radiographs. Maximum knee pain (0–10) was self-reported in a participant diary for 7 days every 2 months over 1 year.

Results After adjusting for factors associated with structural disease progression (gender, body mass index (BMI), baseline structural disease severity and Heberden's nodes), allocation to the dietary supplement combination (glucosamine–chondroitin) resulted in a statistically significant (p=0.046) reduction of 2-year JSN compared to placebo: mean difference 0.10 mm (95% CI 0.002 mm to 0.20 mm); no significant structural effect for the single treatment allocations was detected. All four allocation groups demonstrated reduced knee pain over the first year, but no significant between-group differences (p=0.93) were detected. 34 (6%) participants reported possibly-related adverse medical events over the 2-year follow-up period.

Conclusions Allocation to the glucosamine–chondroitin combination resulted in a statistically significant reduction in JSN at 2 years. While all allocation groups demonstrated reduced knee pain over the study period, none of the treatment allocation groups demonstrated significant symptomatic benefit above placebo.

Trial Registration ClinicalTrials.gov identifier: NCT00513422; http://www.clinicaltrials.gov

Keywords
  • osteoarthritis knee
  • glucosamine
  • chondroitin
  • pain
  • disease progression
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