Critical appraisal of the role of glucosamine and chondroitin in the management of osteoarthritis of the knee
Steven J Narvy1, C Thomas Vangsness Jr2
1Keck School of Medicine, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA, USA; 2Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, Keck School of Medicine, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA, USA
Abstract: Osteoarthritis (OA) is the most common musculoskeletal disease in the United States, with rising prevalence. Medical management of OA involves acetaminophen, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, and other analgesics, all of which are of variable efficacy and are associated with significant side effects and toxicities. The purpose of this review is to critically evaluate the efficacy of glucosamine and chondroitin, both as single agents and in combination, for the treatment of knee OA. Also evaluated were the level of evidence and funding support of the included articles. Almost every included trial of glucosamine sulfate, glucosamine hydrochloride, and chondroitin sulfate has found the safety of these compounds to be equal to that of placebo, though their therapeutic efficacy in decreasing knee OA pain and improving joint function is variable. Additionally, there are data to support a role of these agents in reducing radiographic progression of knee OA. Industry involvement, however, remains prominent. Further, more comprehensive study by independent researchers free of industry ties is necessary to identify a subset of patients in whom the use of glucosamine and/or chondroitin would be most beneficial. These agents may be safely tried as an initial therapy in select OA patients prior to initiating therapy with nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, acetaminophen, and other traditional medications.
Keywords: glucosamine sulfate, glucosamine hydrochloride, chondroitin sulfate, knee osteoarthritis, nutritional supplement, nutraceutical
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