|Wasting Dollars on Glucosamine and Chondroitin Supplements
By Michael Dorausch, DC
Enter any health food store, or supermarket for that matter, and you're likely to find a wide range of glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate supplements intended to fight joint and arthritis pain. The use of these two supplements have their evangelists as well as critics, with one person claiming joint pain would be unbearable without their use, and another stating the supplements offer no benefit whatsoever, other than lightening their wallet.
According to recent research, neither of the two supplements were found to work better than a placebo when it came to slowing the loss of knee cartilage associated with osteoarthritis.
(photo: healthy knees are important)
The study was led by Dr. Allen Sawitzke of the University of Utah School of Medicine and it received funding from the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine at the National Institutes of Health. Published in the October issue of Arthritis & Rheumatism, the study (glucosamine/chondroitin arthritis intervention trial or GAIT) confirmed others with similar findings, showing the two supplements offer little or no benefit in slowing the loss of knee cartilage in osteoarthritis.
According to the lead researcher, there were some trouble interpreting results, because patients taking placebos had a smaller loss of cartilage than was expected. Good for the patients, bad for the study. An original study, which took place in 2006, found glucosamine and chondroitin supplements did not do much for reducing arthritic related knee pain, except in the instance of a small group suffering from moderate to severe pain. Interestingly, a recent study found Arthroscopic Knee Surgery to be unnecessary for many individuals suffering from knee pain.
One may assume chiropractors would be gung ho on prescribing supplements such as glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate. Being that they are natural, rather than things like ibuprofen and OTC pain relievers, I can see that being the case, but in my experience I know very few chiropractors that feel these supplements offer any benefit.
Most of the chiropractic offices I have visited address complaints such as knee pain from osteoarthritis with a focus on postural correction. While some chiropractors address areas of the spine only, others show an interest in seeing that the pelvis, sacrum, and hips are in proper alignment. Is not uncommon in my experience to have a chiropractor perform anterior to posterior and lateral lumbar/pelvic x-rays when individuals have complaints related to osteoarthritis of the knee/s.
In some cases chiropractors may be more likely to prescribe orthotics instead of the two above-mentioned supplements, but even the use of orthotics has its criticisms. If one is not focusing on correcting the problem a pair of orthotics (or single lift) could potentially be masking a greater problem. In my experience, a Band-Aid approach to postural correction, offers no long-term solution for correcting knee (and many times ankle) related problems.
Be sure to speak with your local chiropractor (or other health care practitioner) regarding your consumption of glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate supplements if you're taking them. Perhaps they can recommend changes in nutrition, footwear, muscle strengthening, maintained flexibility in postural muscles, another holistic noninvasive approaches.
It's my opinion that a "solution in a bottle" is not the best approach to holistic health care.