Recent Blog Articles

Pain

Ask the doctor: Can glucosamine and chondroitin help osteoarthritis?

April 01, 2013

Q. I'm 52 years old. Should I take glucosamine and chondroitin to relieve my osteoarthritis pain and maintain cartilage?

A. Glucosamine and chondroitin are compounds found in healthy cartilage. Because osteoarthritis involves the degradation of normal cartilage, it would seem to make sense that taking supplements of these compounds could help maintain cartilage in people with the condition. Early anecdotal reports and small studies did suggest that the two compounds held great promise for relieving pain related to osteoarthritis. However, glucosamine and chondroitin—either together or alone—did not pass muster when they were studied in large controlled clinical trials. Their effect on pain and cartilage was no better than that of a placebo (inactive treatment) in patients with osteoarthritis of the knee or hip.

To continue reading this article, you must log in.

Subscribe to Harvard Health Online for immediate access to health news and information from Harvard Medical School.

  • Research health conditions
  • Check your symptoms
  • Prepare for a doctor's visit or test
  • Find the best treatments and procedures for you
  • Explore options for better nutrition and exercise
Learn more about the many benefits and features of joining Harvard Health Online »

I'd like to receive access to Harvard Health Online for only $4.99 a month.

Sign Me Up

Already a member? Login ».

Disclaimer:

As a service to our readers, Harvard Health Publishing provides access to our library of archived content. Please note the date of last review or update on all articles. No content on this site, regardless of date, should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified clinician.