Can glucosamine supplements protect my knee cartilage from osteoarthritis?
Answers from Brent A. Bauer, M.D.
Study results on this question have been mixed, with some suggesting possible benefit and some showing no benefit on cartilage protection.
Glucosamine is one of the substances in your body that is used to build cartilage. The most common type of arthritis, osteoarthritis wears away the slick cartilage that covers the ends of your bones and helps joints move smoothly.
Study results have been varied, partly because not all the studies have used the same type of glucosamine. And not all the studies included a placebo comparison, or ensured that neither the patient nor the researchers knew which pill was being administered.
That said, glucosamine is relatively inexpensive and safe. If other treatments aren't helping, you might want to talk to your doctor about whether a trial of glucosamine is right for you. It may take up to four months before you see any pain relief.
March 15, 2014
- Towheed T, et al. Glucosamine therapy for treating osteoarthritis. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews.http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/14651858.CD002946.pub2/abstract. Accessed Dec. 12, 2013.
- Sawitzke AD, et al. The effect of glucosamine and/or chondroitin sulfate on the progression of knee osteoarthritis: A report from the glucosamine/chondroitin arthritis intervention trial. Arthritis & Rheumatism. 2008;58:3183.
- Kalunian KC. Initial pharmacologic therapy of osteoarthritis. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Dec. 12, 2013.
- Bauer BA (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. Dec. 12, 2013.
- Sherman AL, et al. Use of glucosamine and chondroitin in persons with osteoarthritis. PM&R. 2012;4:S110.