Many people with osteoarthritis feel knee pain. They often try over-the-counter treatments to ease pain and avoid knee surgery. Glucosamine sulfate and chondroitin sulfate are very popular supplements. In 2012, Americans spent $ 813 million on these supplements, according to the scientific journal Nutrition Business Journal.
Cartilage wear causes knee pain. This is the firm, flexible tissue that covers the ends of the knee and other joints. Glucosamine and chondroitin are two essential components of cartilage, but they are not good for pain relief. These are the reasons:
These popular supplements don’t work.
Many studies have shown that glucosamine sulfate and chondroitin sulfate do not help relieve arthritic knees. People who take the supplements frequently report less joint pain or swelling. But people get similar results if they take a placebo, a “sugar pill” with no active ingredients. Pain relievers, such as acetaminophen and ibuprofen, help much more.
Supplements can be dangerous.
Glucosamine and chondroitin are not harmful on their own, but they can interact with other medications. For example, supplements can increase the effect of warfarin (Coumadin and generics) on blood clotting. This increases the risk of bruising and heavy bleeding. One-third of total US emergency room visits by seniors USA It is due to problems with warfarin.
These supplements are a waste of money.
You will spend about $ 130 a year if you take a glucosamine/chondroitin supplement daily.
To make matters worse, the labels on the jars often contain misleading information. In 2013, Consumer Reports tested 16 supplements for joint pain and found that seven had less chondroitin than the label indicated.
Other approaches often give better results.
There are more effective ways to ease the pain of an arthritic knee:
- Lose weight
- Acetaminophen (Tylenol and generic)
- Ibuprofen (Advil and generic)
- Naproxen (Aleve and generic)
If these don’t help, you can talk to your doctor about treatments, such as injections or surgery.