Health and Nutrition

September 29, 2009

A Negative Verdict for Glucosamine and Chondroitin Supplements

Filed under: Arthritis,Supplements — Doc Joe @ 2:08 am

From the Johns Hopkins Health Alert

The most recent study on glucosamine chondroitin supplements seriously challenges their effectiveness at providing relief from osteoarthritis pain.

In 2006, the National Institutes of Health’s Glucosamine/Chondroitin Arthritis Intervention Trial (GAIT) showed that these popular arthritis supplements don’t help. But many patients held out hope that an ongoing second GAIT would uncover some benefit.

Now results are in for the second part of this landmark trial, and the final analysis suggests more of the same: Glucosamine and chondroitin supplements do not effectively treat osteoarthritis.

Cartilage cushions and protects joints. As osteoarthritis progresses, this cushion wears away, causing joint pain and disability. Glucosamine/chondroitin supplements (they are sold both as a combination pill and separately) contain compounds found in cartilage and are touted to help repair and slow joint deterioration. But it’s unknown how the body processes these compounds or if they ever make it to the cartilage.

The first GAIT analysis included 1,600 participants and measured how well glucosamine/chondroitin supplements reduced pain compared with a placebo and the proven pain reliever celecoxib (Celebrex). After six months researchers reported that, overall, these supplements were no more effective than placebo at relieving pain. As was expected, people taking celecoxib reported the greatest improvement.

Among a small group of participants with moderate to severe knee pain, those taking the combination supplement reported greater pain relief than people taking placebo, but this group was too small for researchers to say for sure that the combo works. Moreover, within this small group, placebo users reported as much pain relief as those taking celecoxib, which casts further doubt on the purported benefits of supplements.

Researchers hoped that the second GAIT analysis, which used x-rays to measure the physical effects of these supplements on knee joints, would clarify matters. Knee images from 357 people with osteoarthritis were analyzed to see if daily glucosamine/chondroitin supplements prevented a loss of joint space — the distance between the ends of bones in the joint. (Bones get closer together as cartilage wears away.) There were no meaningful differences among people taking glucosamine/chondroitin, celecoxib, or placebo.

Glucosamine and chondroitin together did worse than when each was taken alone, but again, these differences were insignificant and no better than placebo. As in the first trial, a small subgroup of patients showed a trend toward improvement. This time, however, the trend was seen in patients with less severe osteoarthritis pain who were taking glucosamine alone — not a combination supplement.

Many people will probably continue to take these supplements despite the new data — osteoarthritis hurts, relief is hard to find, and the small group of participants who benefited is still a nagging issue. About 1,500 mg a day of glucosamine alone is the most promising dosage.

But be aware that well-designed trials done independent of supplement manufacturers have not been able to prove these supplements work, despite their enormous popularity. Moreover, pills can cost more than $30 a month; this is a lot of money to spend on what might be a placebo effect.

Posted in Arthritis on September 28, 2009

April 1, 2009

Chronic Pain Linked to Low Vitamin D

Filed under: Arthritis,Uncategorized — Doc Joe @ 7:25 pm

Chronic Pain Linked to Low Vitamin D

Allison Gandey Medscape Medical News 2009. © 2009 Medscape

March 25, 2009 — Inadequate vitamin D may represent an underrecognized source of nociperception and impaired neuromuscular functioning, say researchers.

“Physicians who care for patients with chronic, diffuse pain that seems musculoskeletal — and involves many areas of tenderness to palpation — should strongly consider checking vitamin-D level,” Michael Turner, MD, from the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, said in a news release issued Friday.

“For example,” he added, “many patients who have been labeled with fibromyalgia are, in fact, suffering from symptomatic vitamin-D inadequacy. Vigilance is especially required when risk factors are present, such as obesity, darker pigmented skin, or limited exposure to sunlight.”

Dr. Turner was lead investigator of a study published in the journal Pain Medicine in November 2008. The work suggests a correlation between inadequate vitamin-D levels and the amount of narcotic medication taken by chronic pain patients. (more…)

September 6, 2008

Almost Half of Adults Will Develop Knee Osteoarthritis by 85

Filed under: Arthritis,General Health,Nutrition — Doc Joe @ 6:27 pm

Study finds risk is greatest for those overweight or obese at age 45

(HealthDay News) — Almost half of all American adults will develop osteoarthritis of the knee by age 85, and their odds increase if they are obese in middle age, a new study says.

A person’s risk of having the painful condition increased as his or her body-mass index (BMI) rose, according to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill study. People who were of normal weight at age 18 but were overweight or obese by 45 or older had the greatest risk.


August 19, 2006

Vitamin D Deficiency Linked to Pain and Disability in Knee Osteoarthritis

Filed under: Arthritis,General Health,Supplements,Vitamin D — Doc Joe @ 5:53 pm

Jane Salodof MacNeil

Medscape Medical News 2004. © 2004 Medscape

Oct. 19, 2004 (San Antonio) — Results from a 30-month study of 221 elderly patients with osteoarthritis of the knee suggest that remedying a vitamin D deficiency can reduce disability and possibly pain as well.


Fish oil supplements ease arthritis pain

Filed under: Arthritis,General Health,Nutrition — Doc Joe @ 5:49 pm


Nutritional supplements can help ease arthritis pain, according to The Lancet medical journal, and patients with rheumatoid arthritis can especially benefit from adding fish oil supplements to their diets.


April 25, 2005

Landmark study shows acupuncture relieves arthritis pain

Filed under: Arthritis,General Health — Doc Joe @ 5:58 pm

DECEMBER 22, 2004 — A clinical trial of “sufficient size and duration” shows that acupuncture reduces the pain and functional impairment of osteoarthritis of the knee and serves as an effective complement to standard care. The landmark study, undertaken by the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM), was published in the Dec. 21, 2004, issue of the Annals of Internal Medicine.


April 22, 2005

NSAIDs are they worth the risk?

Filed under: Arthritis,Uncategorized — Doc Joe @ 5:51 pm


ANAHEIM, Calif. (April 18) – With prescription drugs Vioxx and Bextra already pulled from the market, a study has raised disturbing questions about the heart safety of long-term use of over-the-counter pain relievers such as Advil, Motrin and Aleve.

Smokers in Norway who took such drugs for at least six months had twice the risk of dying of a heart attack, stroke or other heart-related problem.


January 10, 2005

Arthritis Patients Can Seek Natural Pain Relief

Filed under: Arthritis,General Health — Doc Joe @ 8:11 pm

Jan 15, 2005 11:01 am US/Central
Arthritis Patients Can Seek Natural Pain Relief
Mary Ann Childers reports.

(CBS 2) With the FDA’s recent decision to pull the pain reliever Vioxx from the shelves and put Celebrex and Bextra under close watch, arthritis patients are left wondering how they can control their pain.

Now, a new study finds a natural substance may work wonders. (more…)

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