With Vioxx, Arcoxia, and potentially all COX2 inhibitors nixed, to what can sufferers of osteoarthritis turn? Many have sought relief in the supposedly natural ingredients of healthy joints – chondroitin and its agent glucosamine. However, there was scant evidence that taking these two compounds together had any benefits whatsoever beyond the anecdotal claims of some users convinced they worked.
Now, a team in Switzerland, where chondroitin is regularly prescribed as a health supplement, have demonstrated that the compound is no more effective in easing hip and knee pain in osteoarthritis than a placebo. Moreover, Peter Juni of the University of Berne suggests that its use should be discouraged.
Chondroitin sulfate is commonly taken as a health supplement because of a supposed association with the benefits in terms of joint “lubrication”. It is usually taken in combination with glucosamine because this compound allegedly acts as a carrier. However, there is no evidence that any individual is ever deficient in glucosamine and the benefits of supplementary chondriotin have not been proved. At best, results have been mixed.
The researchers at the University of Berne in Switzerland, conducted a meta review of data from 20 trials that included more than 3,600 patients with osteoarthritis and found that chondroitin apparently had no effect in relieving osteoarthritis. Details are published in the Annals of Internal Medicine.
Juni says there is no evidence which suggests that chondroitin helps decrease pain more than a placebo.