Glucosamine and Chondroitin for Osteoarthritis: What You Need To Know
What is osteoarthritis?
Osteoarthritis is a degenerative joint disease in which cartilage and other tissues within the joint break down or change in structure.
Symptoms can include:
- joint stiffness
- difficulty in moving the joint.
The joints most frequently affected by osteoarthritis include the knees, hips, and hands.
Are glucosamine and chondroitin helpful for osteoarthritis in joints?
There is only a small amount of evidence on glucosamine or chondroitin for osteoarthritis in joints other than the knee. Joints that have been studied include the hip, hand, and temporomandibular joint (the joint that connects the jaw to the side of the head, which is involved in talking, chewing, and yawning).
There has been a substantial amount of research on the use of glucosamine and chondroitin, separately or together, for pain and joint function in people with knee osteoarthritis, but studies have had inconsistent results, and expert evaluations of the evidence have reached conflicting conclusions. It’s still uncertain whether glucosamine and chondroitin are helpful for knee osteoarthritis symptoms.
In 2017, the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons published a clinical practice guideline on management of osteoarthritis of the hip that concluded that moderate strength evidence does not support the use of glucosamine sulfate for hip osteoarthritis. This conclusion was based on the one high-quality study that was identified. This study, published in 2008, included 222 participants, who received 2 years of treatment with glucosamine sulfate or a placebo. Glucosamine was no better than placebo in terms of effects on pain, joint function, or joint structure (assessed as joint space narrowing).
One study with 162 participants has evaluated chondroitin for hand osteoarthritis. In this 6-month trial, hand pain decreased and hand function improved to a greater extent in the chondroitin group than the placebo group.
The 2019 guideline for osteoarthritis management from the American College of Rheumatology and the Arthritis Foundation conditionally recommends chondroitin for patients with hand osteoarthritis.
Temporomandibular Joint Osteoarthritis
A review of 8 studies (538 participants) of glucosamine for temporomandibular joint osteoarthritis was unable to reach definite conclusions about whether glucosamine supplements are helpful for symptoms of this condition. The studies were difficult to compare because they used different methods and different types of glucosamine, and some studies may have been biased. The reviewers did conclude, however, that use of glucosamine for 3 months or more led to reduced pain and improvement in maximum mouth opening.
Are glucosamine and chondroitin safe?
No major safety problems have been identified in large studies of glucosamine and chondroitin for osteoarthritis. However, glucosamine may cause increases in blood glucose (sugar) levels in some people, and glucosamine and chondroitin have been associated with an increased risk of bleeding in people who are taking the anticoagulant warfarin. Little is known about the safety of using glucosamine and chondroitin during pregnancy or while breastfeeding.
Use of this information shall be at your discretion and risk.
This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. This statement has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration.