There has been a continuous debate in the treatment of osteoarthritis about the use of the joint supplements glucosamine and chondroitin. Osteoarthritis is a condition that causes problems of wearing out of the normal smooth cartilage surfaces of the joints. Often called wear-and-tear arthritis, osteoarthritis causes Joint Pain, inflammation, swelling, deformity and joint destruction eventually.
Glucosamine and chondroitin are two molecules that make up the type of cartilage found within body’s joints. Cartilage undergoes a steady process of breakdown and repair inside the joints. The scientific theory behind using the glucosamine and chondroitin joint supplements is that more of the cartilage building blocks will be available for cartilage repair in destructed and inflamed joints. Glucosamine is a precursor to a molecule called a glycosaminoglycan-this molecule is used in the formation and repair of cartilage. Chondroitin is the most abundant glycosaminoglycan in cartilage and is widely held responsible for the uncompromised resiliency of cartilage.
Treatment with these joint supplements is based on the theory that oral consumption of glucosamine and chondroitin is responsible for increasing the rate of formation of new cartilage by providing more of the necessary building blocks. However, oral consumption of glucosamine and chondroitin has not been shown to alter the availability of these cartilage building blocks inside an arthritic joint. In various studies, it has not been shown that consumption of joint supplements increases the quantity of these cartilage building blocks within any joint.
There have been numerous studies to examine the treatment effects of glucosamine and chondroitin over short periods of time. Most of these studies last only one to two months; however, they have indicated that patients experienced more pain reduction when taking glucosamine and chondroitin than patients receiving a placebo and the improvement in pain was almost comparable with tradional prescription based analgesic drugs.
The joint supplements glucosamine and chondroitin have few side effects which can further be minimized if used judiciously in discussion with your doctor. Furthermore, there is an indication that NSAIDs may increase the progression of arthritis, whereas glucosamine and chondroitin may offer a more protective effect to the cartilage surface. There have been some recent studies that are focusing on the two primary problems of earlier studies into the supplements glucosamine and chondroitin, which are incorporating more patients in the study and following these patients for a longer period of time.
The results of studies investigating glucosamine and chondroitin have been encouraging, but have not passed the test of a well-designed study to be accepted into the primary treatment plan for osteoarthritis. Ultimately, what patients should understand, is that Glucosamine and Chondroitin have shown encouraging evidence that these supplements can provide help with treating osteoarthritis and the future scope seems bright if their efficacy is ultimately proven in large scale, well standardized scientific studies.