Glucosamine: The Hope and the Hype

Glucosamine and chondroitin are a natural part of cartilage. Cartilage acts as a cushion between the bones in a joint, which can wear down over time and cause osteoarthritis. Many people take the nutritional supplements glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate as a treatment alternative for osteoarthritis pain. But do they really work?

Glucosamine and chondroitin supplements are taken to help slow or prevent the degeneration of joint cartilage, the cause of osteoarthritis pain. The research that has been done does not show any biological effect with cartilage regeneration. That being said, between 50-60% of the patients who have been polled at The Center that use glucosamine and chondroitin, claim that when they stop taking it, they do not feel as good. So, even if it is a placebo effect, it is relatively inexpensive and has no side effects that will hurt you. So, try it for a month and if you feel a reduction in knee or hip pain, then keep taking it.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not regulate dietary supplements in the same way it regulates medicines. A dietary supplement can be sold with limited or no research on how well it works. The labels will not promise results and instead state, “this may help with…” Since these supplements are significantly less expensive than other options on the market, you can try them to see if pain levels decrease without much damage to your wallet. For more information, read this article from the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons (AAOS).