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Glucosamine has 'modest effects' on osteoarthritis

By Mark Pownall

Evidence suggesting some improvement in knee osteoarthritis symptoms with glucosamine sulphate treatment has been revealed by an assessment from the National Institute of Health Research.

But the health technology assessment said the clinical importance of observed differences in pain, function and the loss of joint space loss was unclear.

Researchers at the University of Aberdeen looked at randomised controlled trials that lasted longer than 12 months and they said the evidence reported ‘inconsistent conclusions with, at best, modest effects on reported pain and function'.

The effects on joint space size were more consistent, but small and of uncertain clinical significance.

Two manufacturer-funded studies had found a reduction in the need for a knee replacement from 14.5% to 6.3% at eight years follow up, the assessment noted.

The evidence for the effectiveness of chondroitin was inconsistent, and absent for glucosamine hydrochloride.

Lead researcher Dr Corrinda Black consultant in public health at the department of population health at the School of Medicine at the University of Aberdeen warned that none of the evidence came from UK trials.

‘In the absence of good UK data about current referral practice, management and surgical rate, caution should be exercised in generalising these data to the UK health-care setting.'

The research was published on the 1 December by the Health Technology Assessment programme.

The assessment found evidence for some improvement in knee osteoarthritis symptoms with glucosamine sulphate treatment The assessment found evidence for some improvement in knee osteoarthritis symptoms with glucosamine sulphate treatment

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