Joint Research: Glucosamine eases chronic knee pain

If sore, stiff joints are slowing you down, you may be interested in the results of a recent study by Australian researchers. They report that glucosamine supplements can reduce knee pain in people with cartilage damage and may help in cases of osteoarthritis. Their research was published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine.

Glucosamine is produced naturally in the body and found primarily in joint cartilage. However, production is thought to slow down as we age. Many people have turned to glucosamine supplements, which are widely available in natural food and supplement stores. Like the patients in the study, many have had great success.

The researchers from the University of Western Australia conducted a small trial in which 24 patients with chronic knee pain were prescribed 2,000 mg a day of glucosamine. Another group of 22 patients was given a placebo. The patients were all aged between 20 and 70 and regularly suffered knee pain that was severe enough to interrupt routine activities. During the 12-week trial, knee pain and mobility were assessed at regular intervals.

The researchers found that mobility improved over time in both groups, but more quickly in the glucosamine group. By week 12, almost nine out of 10 (88%) of those given glucosamine said their knee pain had lessened compared with only three (17%) in the group treated with the placebo. The authors conclude that 2,000 mg of glucosamine daily can provide some degree of pain relief and improved mobility in patients with chronic knee pain due to cartilage damage or possibly osteoarthritis.

British Journal of Sports Medicine 2003;37:45-49