Knee Arthritis: Supplements May Not Help
Glucosamine, Chondroitin No Better Than Placebo in Study
What Should Patients Do?
Roughly 21 million American have osteoarthritis. While many patients end up
having surgery to replace worn-out knees, Sawitzke says there are few
nonsurgical treatments that address disease progression.
"Right now we essentially have nothing to offer," he says.
He recommends that people who want to try one of the supplements use
glucosamine alone rather than glucosamine and chondroitin because there is some
evidence that glucosamine absorption is compromised with the combination
"I tell my patients who want to take it for pain to try it for a few
weeks or a month," he says. "That should be long enough to tell if it
is working for you."
The GAIT study and others suggest that glucosamine and chondroitin are safe
supplements, but Briggs says patients who take them or any supplement should
always discuss it with their doctor.
She says more than two out of three adults in the U.S. use some type of
complementary or alternative medicine, but only about one in three tell their
physicians about it.
"It is important to discuss any medication you take with your
doctor, including complementary and alternative medicines," she says.