Can glucosamine supplements protect my knee cartilage from osteoarthritis?
Answer 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. Osteoarthritis is the most common type of arthritis. When you have osteoarthritis, the slick cartilage that covers the ends of your bones and helps joints move smoothly wears away.
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 several months before you see any pain relief.
March 12, 2020
- Deveza LA, et al. Management of knee osteoarthritis. https://www.uptodate.com/contents/search. Accessed Feb. 19, 2020.
- Gregori D, et al. Association of pharmacological treatments with long-term pain control in patients with knee osteoarthritis. JAMA. 2018; doi:10.1001/jama.2018.19319.
- Glucosamine sulfate. Natural Medicines. https://naturalmedicines.therapeuticresearch.com. Accessed Feb. 19, 2020.