Do glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate arthritis supplements help patients with painful osteoarthritis of the hands?
Many patients ask this question as they seek relief from the painful and debilitating effects of arthritis. Drs. Erickson and Messer from Raleigh Hand Center recently reviewed the current medical literature in search of the answer. They recently published their results in the Journal of Hand Surgery. They discovered that the answer to this question is not so simple. Below is an excerpt from their recent article:
“In patients with hip and knee osteoarthritis, many clinical trials suggest a reduction in pain and improvement in joint function with use of oral glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate. However, the studies have been of variable quality and many are subject to industry-sponsorship bias. The efficacy of these products for patients with hand osteoarthritis is currently unknown, although recent clinical evidence holds promise, particularly given the favorable safety profile of glucosamine and chondroitin. If the cost is not prohibitive for the patient, glucosamine and chondroitin may be considered reasonable treatment options as part of a multimodal approach for symptomatic primary osteoarthritis. Further long-term clinical trials are indicated and should use commercially available products that have been rigorously tested with regard to purity and quality. Patients should be informed that nutriceuticals sold in North America are not critically evaluated by regulatory agencies.” — Journal of Hand Surgery. 38A; August 2013.
Drs. Erickson and Messer recommend considering a trial of 1500 mg of glucosamine and 1200 mg of chondroitin sulfate orally per day for 2-3 months. In patients with side effects or lack of response, the supplements should be discontinued. Please talk to your doctor if you have questions.