Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Popular Joint Pain Supplements Don't Work

The popular joint-pain supplements glucosamine and chondroitin are ineffective in reducing knee or hip pain due to osteoarthritis, according to a recent report in the British Medical Journal. The latest meta-analysis reviewed 10 previous large, randomized, controlled studies. The authors conclude that the two supplements have no effect on either patient perception of joint pain or minimum width of joint space (a clinical measure of improvement) when compared to a placebo.

Glucosamine and chondroitin are among the most popular over-the-counter supplements, with annual sales of nearly $2 billion per year. Some people swear by the two supplements because they genuinely do feel better when taking them, and I sincerely believe they’re telling the truth. But the improvements could be due to the well-known placebo effect, or to the fact that in some patients, joint pain declines over time due to natural healing processes. Anecdotal evidence can’t be generalized to a larger population.

The authors of the study see no harm in patients continuing to take the supplements if it makes them feel better. They say that neither supplement does any harm (except to lighten your wallet a little).

No comments: