STUDY:  Chondroitin + Glucosamine Sulfate No Better Than Placebo for People with Knee Osteoarthritis

STUDY: Chondroitin + Glucosamine Sulfate No Better Than Placebo for People with Knee Osteoarthritis

By Staff

Chondroitin sulfate (CS) plus glucosamine sulfate (GS) was shown to be no better than placebo for reducing pain and function impairment for people with knee osteoarthritis, a study published in Arthritis & Rheumatology found.

Although the use of CS and GS has been recognized since the 1970s, there has been limited data concerning their efficacy for treating knee osteoarthritis.

According to, “The American College of Rheumatology in their latest osteoarthritis treatment recommendations published in 2012 does not recommend chondroitin or glucosamine for the initial treatment of osteoarthritis. Chondroitin and glucosamine supplements alone or in combination may not work for everyone with osteoarthritis. However, patients who take these supplements and who have seen improvements with them should not stop taking them. Both supplements are safe to take long-term.”

The study was a multicenter, randomized, double-blinded, placebo-controlled study of 164 patients with knee osteoarthritis. Participants were randomized to receive either CS (1200 mg) plus GS (1500 mg) or placebo in a single oral daily dose for a duration of six months. The mean change in VAS global pain was set as primary endpoint. Secondary outcomes included the mean change in the investigator global assessment, total WOMAC, pain and function subscales of WOMAC, OMERACT-OARSI 2004 responder rate, and rescue medication use.

“This is the first randomized controlled trial sponsored by a pharmaceutical company to evaluate the efficacy of a combination of CS and GS and that included a Data and Safety Monitoring Board, or DSMB, composed of independent experts charged with ensuring participant safety and accurate, bias-free data. This committee was blinded to treatment assignment and not involved in the trial procedures, and it had no financial ties or conflicts of interest with the sponsor or other trial organizers,” said Prof. Gabriel Herrero-Beaumont, senior author of the Arthritis & Rheumatology study.

The study concluded, “CS and GS failed to demonstrate superiority over placebo in reducing pain and function impairment in patients with symptomatic KOA at 6 months.”

According to the researchers, additional research may provide valuable insights on what role CS and GS therapy might play in the management of osteoarthritis.

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Authored by: Staff

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Lisa Nagy

This is such a small study for a very limited time. And most importantly this holistic med generally takes 6 mths to see improvement, so I have to wonder why they would do only a 6 mth study?? Sounds like someone had an agenda to remove these off the market or decrease their use to me.

Tim Mason

Let me first say this: All drugs have risks. Even OTC medications, herbs etc. I see several reason doctors are removing morphine and its derivatives are as follows
1. Having a lot of scheduled narcotics written puts your practice in the lime light and it can affect your “Business Model” (see #2)
2. Modern Pain Management is a Business First. (Lucrative I might add)
3. It is more cost effective and profitable to sell the patient on stimulators, injections and gadgets than to maintain the monitoring program. i.e. analytical lab on site, mucho documentation, ALLSCRIPS, Reporting etc.
4. You employ rigid “exit strategies” google that for complete list of these.
I would like to ask Dr. Goodwin about the origin of the term “Chronic-Pain”
This is really a new term for me but it is now everywhere. Would the term not apply to someone that was not treated or managed? Or someone that the origin of pain was not understood?
For me, I have OA. Inherited. “Genetics loads the gun and lifestyle pulls the trigger”.
I had an ALIF 360 and a hip replacement. Need another hip and some more disc work. But I do not consider myself a chronic pain person. I consider myself an arthritis sufferer, surgically modified with managed pain.

Jeremy Goodwin, MS, MD

I agree with Jeannine. Right now, so many of the so called complementary mefical approached to pain and headache are being touted where they once were foolishly laughed at. But their affects are small to moderate and often best used when a component of several ‘natural’ compounds or manual manipulation and acupuncture. Even then, the reason for opioids, as j have published on knee OA is still a legitimate and often needed addition following a stepwise approach to card that included weight loss, improved body mechanics and fitness training as well as weight loss.

The reason opioids are employed is that sometimes all of these fail as do the injections of HA, etc., but the unscientific and politically misguided confusion over intractable opioid responsive pain and the sometimes seen complications ( NOT an epidemic as popularly described) such as chemical dependence in the form of addiction is problematic in failing to provide adequate care for addiction let alone withdrawing medications such as opioids unreasonably from those functioning better on them. Of course hormonal depletion or suppression that occurs with pain, stress and high dose opioids and tolerance can all be managed well with proper care but most clinician’s lack interest for reasons beyond my grasp other than a failure to genuinely empathize or a focus on money that is more easily made elsewhere. Some of these alternatives are less than that but they are boosters for other compounds or interventions that can prive opioid sparing.

The profession needs to start dropping the excuses and pretending to support approaches that they know are insufficient and to focus more on care and empathy as much as they do on cure.


I have used GS, CS, but most importantly Hyaulonic acid for OA and it’s the HA that has helped. Often, you find them all in a mixed supplement as nd I wonder if that’s why people thought it was the GS & CS doing the majority of the work and not the HA.

I have used all three on my dogs, and only noticed minimal improvement with GS & CS, but remarkable improvement with HA. ….Only reemphasizing what I thought was happening with me.

I would be very interested in the results of a clinical trial on HA vs placebo, although I have seen it work on those that have no motive to lie or fake it.