Combination of glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate may be effective in some patients with moderate-to-severe knee pain

May 08, 2017

The clinical trial, sponsored by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), found that using a combination of the two supplements "significantly decreased" knee pain in osteoarthritis patients experiencing moderate-to- severe pain. Results of the Glucosamine/chondroitin Arthritis Intervention Trial (GAIT) appear in the Feb. 23 issue of NEJM.

"GAIT adds to a growing body of scientific evidence that shows the two supplements can safely alleviate pain from osteoarthritis," said Andrew Shao, Ph.D., vice president of scientific and regulatory affairs at the Council for Responsible Nutrition. "This rigorous clinical trial offers strong evidence that glucosamine and chondroitin can provide significant relief from knee pain for those who suffer the most from osteoarthritis," Dr. Shao said.

Osteoarthritis - a chronic condition known as the "wear-and-tear" kind of arthritis - afflicts 21 million Americans each year, a large percentage of whom suffer moderate-to-severe knee and joint pain.

The six-month GAIT study involved 1,500 osteoarthritis patients who were given a placebo or daily doses of 1,500/mg of glucosamine hydrochloride and/or 1,200 mg of chondroitin sulfate or 200 mg of the common prescription pain medication celecoxib. In the NEJM article, Daniel O. Clegg, M.D., the principal author, and his colleagues note that an analysis of patients with moderate-to-severe pain "demonstrated that combination therapy significantly decreased knee pain related to osteoarthritis."

The GAIT findings are supported by the vast majority of more than 50 published clinical trials that have demonstrated the safety and benefit of the two supplements, Dr. Shao said, adding that glucosamine and chondroitin may help others at risk for osteoarthritis or those experiencing joint discomfort, including athletes in high-impact sports such as basketball or running.

"We believe that the results from this study not only indicate that more research is needed to determine the full potential of glucosamine and chondroitin, but also to reconfirm that these supplements can help the growing number of Americans with joint problems reduce the pain of osteoarthritis," he said.