March 19, 2014
Glucosamine Supplements Don’t Reduce Damage,
Pain in Knees

Tucson, AZ—Taking an oral glucosamine supplement doesn’t diminish knee cartilage deterioration in patients suffering chronic knee pain, according to a new study.

The short-term study, published recently in the journal Arthritis & Rheumatology, indicates that glucosamine does not decrease pain or improve knee bone marrow lesions, which are believed to be a source of pain in osteoarthritis (OA). The joints on glucosamine (JOG) study is the first to investigate whether the supplement prevents the worsening of cartilage damage or bone marrow lesions.

The American College of Rheumatology reports that 27 million Americans more than 25 years old are diagnosed with OA and often try to treat it with natural supplements, with glucosamine the second most commonly used natural product in the United States.

For the double-blind, placebo-controlled trial, researchers from the University of Arizona in Tucson and colleagues used mass mailings and an arthritis registry in southwestern Pennsylvania to recruit 201 participants with mild-to-moderate pain in one or both knees. The study group was randomized to daily treatment with either 1,500 mg of glucosamine hydrochloride in a 16-ounce bottle of diet lemonade or placebo for 24 weeks.

No decrease in cartilage damage, which was assessed with magnetic resonance imaging, was found in participants in the glucosamine group compared to the placebo group, according to the results. Furthermore, 70% of the knees showed no change in bone marrow lesions, with 18% of the lesions worsening and 10% improving.

Overall, the control group had greater improvement in bone marrow lesions compared to treated participants, with neither group displaying significant worsening, according to the results.

Glucosamine also was not found to decrease urinary excretion of C-telopeptides of type II collagen (CTX-II)—a predictor of cartilage destruction.
“Our study found no evidence that drinking a glucosamine supplement reduced knee cartilage damage, relieved pain, or improved function in individuals with chronic knee pain,” said lead author C. Kent Kwoh, MD.

U.S. Pharmacist Social Connect