Does glucosamine really work?

At the annual European congress of rheumatology in Vienna Karel Pavelka, M.D., reported on his last 5 year follow up research study suggesting some merits with use of glucosamine. The use of oral glucosamine by patients with knee osteoarthritis results in a marked reduction in need for knee replacement surgery for at least 5 years after the drug is stopped, He reported on a new 5-year follow-up data from his previously reported double-blind placebo-controlled trial involving 202 patients with knee osteoarthritis randomized to oral glucosamine sulfate at 1,500 mg once daily or placebo for 3 years. During the next 5 years after the 3-year trial ended and patients were back on standard conservative management, 11 of 67 patients formerly in the placebo arm underwent total knee replacement, as did 3 of 69 previously on glucosamine. This represents a 73% reduction in the risk of surgical knee replacement. The number of patients who needed to be treated with glucosamine instead of placebo to avoid one additional knee replacement was eight, told the conference attendees, Dr. Pavelka of Charles University, Prague, Czech Republic. In his study the scientist observed Glucosamine resulted in radiographically changes in joint structure that persisted for years after treatment ended. This is the most likely explanation for the observed reduction in knee replacement, the rheumatologist adds. The conference was sponsored by the European League Against Rheumatism. Indeed, only 5% of patients on glucosamine had more than 5 mm of joint space narrowing during the 3-year active treatment phase, compared with 14% in the placebo arm. And this degree of joint space narrowing during the first 3 years of the study was associated with a 3.2-fold increased risk of total knee replacement during the subsequent 5 years. Dr. Pavelka confirmed. This study supports the previous findings about Glucosamine and the beneficial effects of it on osteoarthritis.

Case Study Date: 12/9/2005