Do Glucosamine and Chondroitin Alleviate Joint Pain?

By , SparkPeople Blogger
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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We believe it helps us with our joint pains... we get the shellfish free version. Report
Those things didn't help me much. Report
It has helped me so much with knee pain. I stopped taking for a few months because I thought that maybe my pain was gone. Not so. I started back and I will never stop taking it again.! Report
It's helped me with knee pain. And when I switched to just glucosamine to save money, some of the achiness returned, so I I went back to glucosamine with the chondroitin. Some of it may be mental--believing it will work. But hey, less pain is fine with me, whatever the reason! Report
You need to use a supplement that has both glucosamine and MSM - especially if you are lifting weights at the gym. Glucosamine support strength of connective tissue and MSM is a natural source of sulfur needed for optimal connective tissue health and joint support.

Since my husband turned 32 (5x a week weight lifter), he started using the Dr Max Powers Joint Support supplement - it has both of these ingredients, and he has have never had any problems with my joints or lifting heavy. Recommended by my doctor because he was claiming about soreness and lack of mobility - but the Dr max Powers Joint Supplements just took that away within a week. Report
I grew up with perthes disease and taking a natural collagen supplement allowed me to never take a pain killer again, and I have put off hip replacement surgery too. I now take a combo of collagen supplements and specific shark cartilage joint pain supplement, and this works really great too. Also ground up / blended flaxseeds and brazil nuts also work well. In fact the more nuts and seeds the better...
The flaxseeds work better then say tylenol, and are natural, with no side effects.

And what I always wonder is for several years I been taking copious amounts of pain killers to try to take care of the pain, and really to no effect...then one day I stumbled upon the collagen supplements??

I mean as a doctor would it not be better to prescribe something more natural as eat these seeds and nuts to help put more minerals and nutirients into your body?

And if that does not get you there then take some natural supplements???
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I got to know about this product through advertisements. I don’t know whether it really work good or not. I took it for five days and now I can say that alleviate works better than any other product. I would recommend this product to anyone who is suffering from joint pain. To know more about Alleviate Joint Formula
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... Report
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. Report
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. Report
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. Report
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. Report
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!!!! Report
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. Report
I took a product with these ingriedents , Osteo 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. Report
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. Report
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 Report
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. Report
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 Report
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. Report
I never noticed any difference. Report
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. Report
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 Sam’s Club brand and it’s rare that I have to supplement with acetaminophen or ibuprofen. Report
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... Report
We give it to the dog. Report
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. Report
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. Report
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. Report
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. Report
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 Report
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. Report
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. Report
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.

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ever since a slight knee injury i have felt a difference between when i take it and when i don't... Report
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. Report
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! Report
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. Report
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! Report
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. Report
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! Report
I've taken it in the past and didn't see any difference, but my dad swore by it! Report
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 Report
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!! Report
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. Report
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! Report
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!) Report
I have been taking it for 2 years. The thing 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. Report
Yes, I have tried it only to find, like the study says, it really doesn't work! Now I save my money!! Report
Yes I took it years ago for 2-3 years and it did not work for me. Report