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Do Glucosamine and Chondroitin Alleviate Joint Pain?

By: , SparkPeople Blogger
7/20/2010 2:14 PM   :  211 comments   :  30,724 Views

For many years, people have been searching for ways to alleviate joint pain, especially those who suffer from the painful effects of osteoarthritis. Glucosamine and chondroitin are two naturally occurring substances in your body that help build and repair cartilage. The theory behind using them for joint pain is that more of the cartilage building blocks will be available for cartilage repair. Research has shown that these products are generally safe, but are they effective? Much of the current research says you should save your money.

A study conducted at Oslo University Hospital (and recently published in the Journal of the American Medical Association), looked at patients who suffered from low back pain and osteoarthritis. 125 Norwegians were given oral glucosamine for 6 months, while a second group was given a placebo. The participants were evaluated for pain, pain-related disability, and quality of life at the beginning of the study, then at six weeks, three months, six months and a year. Whether they were taking the actual pills or placebo, there was no difference in pain level between the two groups.

According to research, "While it is an interesting theory, oral consumption of glucosamine and chondroitin has not been shown to alter the availability of these cartilage building blocks inside an arthritic joint. It has not been shown that consumption of joint supplements increases the quantity of these cartilage building blocks within any joint."

On the other hand, a 3-month study of chondroitin in 372 patients found that their pain symptoms decreased while taking the supplement. However, it's difficult to know how much of that is an actual change in pain level and how much is a placebo effect ("Since I'm taking a drug to help with my joint pain it must be working, right?").

A few things to keep in mind: Most of these products say you'll need to take them for at least 8 weeks before starting to see any difference. So you will have to invest a little money and time before expecting results. These supplements are also not regulated by the FDA, so you can never be totally sure about what you're getting.

I took glucosamine and chondroitin for a few years to help with knee pain. I felt like it did make a difference for me, but eventually I stopped taking it when I got pregnant with my first child. I know some people who have had success with it, and others who say it was a waste of time and money.

Have you ever tried using glucosamine and/or chondroitin for joint pain? If so, did it help?


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Comments

  • 211
    I've started taking it in the last week or so. I never had knee pain before but I started a half marathon training schedule and suddenly I stopped being able to run so 2 separate runner friends recommended it. I'm still waiting on the results. I haven't tried running again since starting on it since crouching down sometimes still hurts and I don't want to aggravate a possible injury... - 2/19/2013   4:05:58 PM
  • 210
    I have had 2 knee replacement surgeries due to sports injuries (right and left torn ACL) in the last 10 years. I dealt with constant knee pain until I started taking supplements. I currently take Tri-Flex from GNC and it has worked wonders for me. It contains Chondroitin, Glucosamine , and MSM. It is something that you have to take every day to feel the effects. I, like many, didn't buy any more once I ran out, and I felt the effects. - 8/27/2012   3:29:58 PM
  • MZIESCHANG
    209
    Yes, I think it works. I could hardly walk due to my knees hurting. I started taking it in liquid form from Sam's wholesale club. I take it at night before I go to bed. The first thing I notice was the swelling going down around my knees. As each week goes by my knees and muscles in my legs feel better and better. - 7/7/2011   5:05:23 PM
  • 208
    Our vet recommended we give it to our 2 Shih Tzu/Bichons. They are only 5yrs old, but she said that it's better to start them on it now, when there are no problems, rather than later, when they will likely develop problems. Proactive rather than reactive. - 7/7/2011   1:10:48 PM
  • NIQUIED
    207
    It makes a difference for me. I started taking it when my Dr. advised me to and the pain lessened in my knees. Then I ran out, and didn't replace it right away, and the pain increased. I tried other combinations with glucosamin, and the only one that makes a difference is chondrointin. - 5/19/2011   12:58:21 PM
  • 206
    I think it works. My husbaand swears by it. He was in a horrible accident when he was two. He was hit by a drunk driver (while on his bike) and his knees and hips have never been the same. A doc. friend recommended this and for the first time he says his hips and knees feel better!!!!!! Only thing is you have to take it all the time. This is a preventitive med. Not like a pain reliever where you only take it at the moment it hurts!!!! - 12/31/2010   2:48:25 PM
  • 205
    It works and is not a placebo effect. I've done what is called ABA studies on myself unintentionally in which I didn't realize I hadn't put it in my medicine container with many other vitamines, encountered an increase in pain, and then started taking again...and the pain goes away. I have taken the combination glucosamine/chondroitin and it definitely works if you have fairly decent cartilage to began with...not bone on bone. Also you must check the amount. For me, I must have the higher doses of both 1500mg/1200mg glucosamine/chondrointin. - 12/31/2010   11:22:24 AM
  • 204
    I took a product with these ingriedents , Osteo bioflex....to NO avail.. I spent so much money, HOPING to see it work....NEVER did....BUT that is not the end of the story.....when I first saw an add for ELATIONS, a LIQUID form of glocosamin chondrotin, I thought, I would try it....I have to say , THIS PRODUCT WORKS!!!! BUT you do have to take it every day! Occassional dosing does not work. - 10/16/2010   12:22:46 AM
  • 203
    Yes I do take it, yes it does work, no it's not placebo effect because I was a skeptic and had negative faith it would work.

    The reason why it works for some and not others, is because there are many different kinds. The formulations that use lesser amounts than the amounts in the original clinical trials, do NOT work for people. I recommend Schiff brand. I use the $3 off or $5 off coupon in Sunday papers, it's in Sun papers about two times per year, buy more than one paper. And then I buy when there is a BOGOF sale on Schiff brand supplements at the supermarket, and combine the coups with the BOGOF sale. Stock up at that time.

    If you don't want to buy Schiff, here's what you need to do:

    1. Find out what amounts were in the original clinical trials that had positive results for people. No one will do this for you; it is your responsibility to become an informed consumer.

    2. Check the labels before you buy, comparing the amounts on the labels, with the amounts of the clinical trials that had the beneficial results. Don't buy and/or throw away the ones you already bought, that have lesser amounts than what was in the original clinical trials that had beneficial results for people. - 8/12/2010   2:35:05 AM
  • 202
    For me it just has not seemed to help When my legs got better I went to my PCP who had become mine in the last year and after checking everything out I got an email with the recomendation to take it. Not Definitely is not worth the price - 8/6/2010   7:54:05 PM
  • 201
    I had been taking this (per an orthopedic doctor's advice) for a few months, then ran out of pills, and forgot about replacing my supply or taking the pills. At that time, I wasn't convinced they were helping. After a few weeks, I noticed that my knees were more painful than they had been. I tried to figure out why, remembered that I was no longer taking these supplements, went out to buy a bottle. After a couple weeks, pain was diminishing. I won't go without again. - 8/3/2010   8:33:29 AM
  • PAMELALANDIS
    200
    If it works, keep taking it. If it doesn't, quit taking it. God designed us uniquely, fearfuly & wonderfully. Why should our bodies all respond the same to one therapy? I also believe we are the best decision-makers for ourselves. Don't be afraid to talk to you healthcare provider about what you really think about treatments. Be assertive. Blessings to all..Pam - 7/31/2010   11:08:11 PM
  • 199
    Yes, it works!!! I take it in the mornings and have little to no pain on most days. I stopped taking it for a while and could tell a major difference as I was in horrible pain in every joint in my body. - 7/31/2010   7:47:34 PM
  • 789CHERYL
    198
    I never noticed any difference. - 7/31/2010   5:05:40 AM
  • 197
    I took it for several months with out any relief. My orthopedic doctor said my right knee was bone on bone. I finally had a total right knee replacement. I have had no regrets since. - 7/28/2010   6:00:11 PM
  • KADDYMOMMA
    196
    I have taken G/C combo for about 3 years for knee pain and it works VERY well for me. My doctor does not have a problem with me taking it and I was able to stop taking a prescription anti-inflammatory. I take the Samís Club brand and itís rare that I have to supplement with acetaminophen or ibuprofen. - 7/27/2010   9:37:45 PM
  • 195
    I do believe it works for me (again, one never knows if it is just the placebo effect at work in instances like this). I have heard, though, that you need to take a LOT more of it than the typically recommended dosages, but I don't know how much more and for how long. I usually run out and then don't feel like shelling out another 30 bucks for a bottle the size of the original zico containers! it's too expensive for me but as a violinist and martial artist (!!!) I am starting to think it's just a supplement that I shouldn't live without!

    sigh... I don't like dependence on anything but I think this might just be worth it... - 7/27/2010   8:47:13 PM
  • 194
    We give it to the dog. - 7/27/2010   11:21:38 AM
  • 193
    Over the last 12 years, I have tried glucosamine, chondroitin, and MSM many times for chronic knee pain due to injury. I have not found it to work at all on me. I know many people who use it successfully, but my joint pain does not respond to it at all. - 7/25/2010   7:51:33 PM
  • 192
    I have taken them before and noticed a difference, maybe if you're already to far along it might not be as effective, did these people exercise? maybe that would be part of what would help. - 7/25/2010   3:26:33 PM
  • RETIRED1912
    191
    I have been taking Glucosamine/ Chondrotin & MSM for quite a number of years. I also have been diagnosed with Osteoarthritus and I find these tablets really take the pain away. - 7/25/2010   1:54:57 PM
  • 190
    As a PT as well I agree that a study is only as good as it's design and inplementation. On a personal note, the first time I tried glucosamine (by itself) it didn't seem to work for me but I had trouble taking it twice a day. I tried it again several months later with the additive of MSM which helps the glucosamine to act more quickly. It has really helped my hands and my lower back. My hands begin to ache again if I stay off of it for several days, for example if I forget to bring it along on vacation. - 7/25/2010   1:02:03 PM
  • 189
    YES - glucosamine has been so very helpful. i started on it about 10 years ago. 1500mg in liquid once daily. i have RA and Fibromyalgia. i stopped the added chondritine as i was advised not to take it by both naturopath and g.p.
    i agree that animals benefit from it too. my previous little pug had it for the last two years of her life and she did much better with her hips and back - more flexible and mobile. BB - 7/25/2010   9:03:18 AM
  • 188
    My chiropractor told me that eating brussels sprouts daily helps the body make its own glucosamine. There are dietary ways to build cartilage that are far less expensive, and possibly more effective, than supplements. - 7/25/2010   8:29:08 AM
  • PINKOWL
    187
    I take it every single morning and it believe in it. It really works for my IBS . Helps the inflammation in your intestines. Works well for my legs. - 7/25/2010   8:19:32 AM
  • JTREMPE
    186
    As a physical therapist I am asked all the time about glucosamine. One needs to look at ALL the studies and not just a few to get a true idea of this supplement might help. Some times the specific formulation and dosage greatly impacts the results. Generally those with hip and knee arthritis seem to fair better than arthritis of other joints in the body.

    To learn more visit:

    http://www.joint-pain-solutions.com
    /arthritis-supplements.html


    - 7/24/2010   10:25:49 AM
  • 185
    ever since a slight knee injury i have felt a difference between when i take it and when i don't... - 7/24/2010   9:58:56 AM
  • 184
    I have been taking a glucosamine/chondrotin supplement for atleast 10 years and find it does help me. I can tell when I don't take them for a couple days, I get back on them. - 7/24/2010   9:00:21 AM
  • 183
    Have taken glucosamine and now MSM) since it came out. Read the book by Dr. Theodosakus (sp?) when glucosamine first came on market and that was many years ago. I definitely see a difference! - 7/23/2010   6:27:01 PM
  • REBECKY44
    182
    Yes. I felt as though it did help. I have a hard time remembering to take supplements, so I didn't take it for very long. - 7/23/2010   12:30:04 PM
  • RODDEI
    181
    I have taken glucosamine for a few years now. After a Dr. appointment where he said "not proven" about it, I stopped taking it to see what would happen. Within a week to 10 days my hips hurt so much I had trouble getting out of bed in the morning, once I started the glucosamine again the pain went away. My husband used to have a lot of pain in his knees especially when we travelled long distances in the car. After taking glucosamin/chrondriton supplement for some time now, he notices a huge difference in the degree of pain and stiffness in his knees. It may be "not proven" according to our Dr., but we both believe! - 7/23/2010   11:39:29 AM
  • PAMELASUE60
    180
    I have taken chondroitin for years - I find when I stop taking it (run out, too busy ....) my joint pains flare up. I tried the glucosamine/chondroitin first, but the glucosamine did a number on my blood sugar so my doctor had me drop it. The chondroitin seems to hold me.

    I agree that dehydration can definitely make you achy. Also very tired. - 7/23/2010   10:21:46 AM
  • MILPAM3
    179
    Have a friend who is a nurse, and she recommends taking them in conjunction with MSM, which I do. Before taking these supplements, my hips would lock up after only a 15-minute car ride. No more! - 7/22/2010   10:03:24 PM
  • 178
    I've taken it in the past and didn't see any difference, but my dad swore by it! - 7/22/2010   9:49:00 PM
  • PMORENA
    177
    It didn't work for me but my husband swears by his daily pill. I found that once I started losing weight, the pain in my knee started decreasing - 7/22/2010   5:17:19 PM
  • 176
    YES. YES.. YES... I am able to walk and Move because of glucosamine.. I found the best to be the capsuel form. your body absorbs it better & another benifit is that you can pull it apart and sprinkle it on your Dogs food...

    Yes.. Yes... YES!! - 7/22/2010   4:33:40 PM
  • 175
    We had an elderly cocker/poodle cross who had bad arthritis in his hips. His vet recommended that we give him glucosamine. We soon noticed that he was having a much easier time getting around, and was able to get up on his hind legs to steal off the counter. He wouldn't have experienced a placebo effect. I'm a believer after seeing glucosamine help him. - 7/22/2010   4:19:00 PM
  • ANNEK85925
    174
    About 5 years ago I used to suffer from hip pain. I rode and trained horses for about 25 years, so all of that bouncing around may have taken a toll on my pelvis... But I noticed that when I was walking around a mall with my daughter, that I would have to sit down after about 30 minutes because my right hip would start killing me. Even lying in bed at night before falling asleep they bothered me and I couldn't fall asleep. When I mentioned it to my endocrinologist, she recommended glucosamine supplements. I started taking a glucosamine and chondroitin supplement and my hips haven't hurt since. Maybe they don't work for everyone, but I'm a believer! - 7/22/2010   3:43:09 PM
  • MATHMUSICMAMA
    173
    4 years ago, I was getting ready for carpal tunnel surgery & they told me to stop taking all pain meds for 2 weeks before surgery. At the time, I was taking pain medication for my hips. I was very concerned about not having ANY relief during the 2 weeks, but the doctor informed me I could continue taking my glucosamine-chrondroitin-msm tablets. I found out that I didn't have any pain when I was able to continue taking them---even WITHOUT the "pain medication" I'd BEEN taking! So I no longer take the "pain meds"---just the GCM. It has helped for a number of years, but now my osteoarthritis has degenerated my knee joints enough that I'm having to take additional "real" pain meds as well. But it DID help for several years & I am STILL taking it! (I don't want to find out how it feels if I DON'T!) - 7/22/2010   3:38:48 PM
  • 172
    I have been taking it for 2 years. The thing is...as I lose weight my knee pain seems to diminish. How about that? I am thinking about doing a reverse experiment and stopping it for awhile as I lose weight. I won't go back on if it doesn't make a difference. - 7/22/2010   3:18:47 PM
  • 171
    Yes, I have tried it only to find, like the study says, it really doesn't work! Now I save my money!! - 7/22/2010   3:12:56 PM
  • 170
    Yes I took it years ago for 2-3 years and it did not work for me. - 7/22/2010   2:39:47 PM
  • JESSMY
    169
    I was diagnosed with osteoarthritis in the shoulder some 14-15 years ago. Then I heard about glucosamine sulphate - without chondroitin. I started using it 3x/day, and around the same time joined a fitness club. Together, they eliminated all shoulder pain pretty quickly. Since then I have continued to take two glucosamine a day, and also attend the gym. I'm now 78 and have no signs of o.a. Last week I mentioned to a pharmacist that my husband was suffering from swollen arthritic fingers, and he told me to have him use just that: glucosamine without chondroitin. You have to start with 3x/day for several weeks or months before deciding if it is doing you any good. - 7/22/2010   2:39:39 PM
  • 168
    My brother swears by it. He was reduced to using a cane because of knee pain. The cane is gone. I took it because of his endorsement. My knee would really hurt when walking and after taking it for a little over six weeks, the pain disappeared and hasn't returned. If it does, I'll go back to taking the supplements. Been well over 2 years. - 7/22/2010   1:48:42 PM
  • 167
    I tried using a well-known brand of a Glucosamine / Chondroitin supplement a few years ago. I took it for several weeks (without making any other changes in diet or lifestyle) and felt WORSE. My body ached all over, and there was nothing my physician or I could attribute this to but the supplement. After a month or so of not taking it, my body returned to normal. Glad it helps some people, but Glucosamine / Chondroitin is not for me. - 7/22/2010   10:39:38 AM
  • 166
    I have had much better results from taking Sam-e, as has my best friend, who started taking it after seeing how much better I could walk. - 7/22/2010   10:38:25 AM
  • 165
    It did not work for me. I have OA in my left ankle. When I started taking these, I developed cramps in my ankle. owww! - 7/22/2010   9:09:00 AM
  • 164
    I take it and it works well for my knee pain - 7/22/2010   6:17:23 AM
  • PEG2037
    163
    I took Glucosimine/Chondroitin for a number of years. It didn't seem to help me much. After riding in my car for a short distance when I arrived at my destination I could hardly move, I was very, very stiff. Finally, I read an article about Omega 3 capsules and its benefits. The results were immediate. I literally "bounced" out of my car when I reached my destination. Initially, I stopped taking the Glucosimine and used only the Omega 3. Then. I reintroduced the Glucosimine back into my diet - many of the results that I had been experiencing with Omega-3 started to reverse. I am moderately overweight, but, I do exercise, and attend deep water aerobics 4 days weekly. You man want to ask your Doctor about this remedy. Sure works for me! - 7/22/2010   6:14:47 AM
  • 162
    I took Glucosamine/Chondroitin for the last 12 years for arthritis in my knees. When I first started taking it, I was taking 800 mg of ibuprofen 3x/day to deal with the discomfort. Within 6 weeks I was able to cut that back to the occasional 400 mg for flare-ups. It made a huge difference for me for many years, I feel. Unfortunately, it did not stop the cartilage breakdown as I am now bone on bone in both knees and the pain is back. I just recently stopped taking it because I feel that at this point, my knees are too far gone for it to help. But I believe if you have early osteoarthritis it can truly provide some relief... give it a month-6 weeks before you expect to see results, and understand it is not a cure, but it definitely DOES help! - 7/22/2010   6:13:32 AM

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