Do you know chondro-gluco?
March 2, 2011 9:37 AM   Subscribe

I’ve been having a flareup of arthritis pain in my right wrist that travels all the way up to my shoulder. I recently stopped taking glucosamine and chondroitin, as I was not convinced that they are or were helping my osteoarthritis but now I’m not so sure. I am doing exercises as recommended by my physical therapist and am researching “trigger foods” to see if I need to eliminate them from my diet. But I keep coming back to the gluco-chondro thing. Since my doctor said there was no medical evidence to support their use, but recommended that I try them to see if they would help to alleviate the pain, I am wondering if anyone who uses/has used glucosamine and or chondroitin would be willing to share your experience.

I did see the previous askme's about this very same topic but I really would like more data. Thanks!
posted by Lynsey to Health & Fitness (17 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I have used them and see no particular benefit, but my arthritis is not due to degeneration of cartilage so I dunno if I'm exactly the target audience. My understanding is that some people respond and some just don't.
posted by restless_nomad at 9:52 AM on March 2, 2011

I've used both supplements and discontinued them due to lack of personal improvement.
I have arthritis in my spine and the only supplements I currently take are Vitamin D and Vitamin B12. I question whether they help but my d levels have previously been low prior to taking the supplements (blast you winter not being able to get my sun!).
I can't take nsaids and generally don't take/have opiate medications regularly yet opiates generally help the most albeit temporarily.
posted by handbanana at 10:06 AM on March 2, 2011

The question is whether or not it works for YOU. Non-human anecdata: we had an elderly dog with terrible joint stiffness and pain, and after a few months of this kind of supplement (bought in the people aisle of the drugstore), he wasn't crying every time he got up or laid down. As far as I know, there's no placebo effect for medication in dogs.
posted by availablelight at 10:12 AM on March 2, 2011

I know it's not exactly what you are asking but, try switching the computer mouse to your other hand.
posted by Ignorance at 10:26 AM on March 2, 2011

The only thing glucosamine and chondroitin did for me was make me nauseous. No pain relief whatsoever. This study by the NIH would indicate it does work for people with severe pain, but not for others. Since my pain is not severe, that's probably why it didn't work for me.
posted by tommasz at 10:36 AM on March 2, 2011

Since the mid-90s we've had high-quality studies showing glucosamine's benefits (says my friend, a biomed scientist/Biology PhD).

I've just started taking glucosamine (can't take chondroiton), so I can't report on its effect for me yet, but I can strongly recommend the anti-inflammatory spices cumin and turmeric.
posted by sparrows at 11:14 AM on March 2, 2011

I tried taking glucosamine for a few months on advice from a relative in the medical field (I do have cartilage issues). I did not notice any positive or negative changes.
posted by forforf at 11:23 AM on March 2, 2011

I know you are asking for personal anecdotes, but here too is the Cochrane review summary on glucosamine and osteoarthritis.
posted by gaspode at 11:30 AM on March 2, 2011

Thanks everyone who has responded so far. Note: switching mouse is not an option at this time which is why I did not mark it as a best answer. Studies are most welcome, thank you gaspode. (So far, they show what I've researched as well - it may or may not work.)
posted by Lynsey at 11:35 AM on March 2, 2011

I know this is not very directly connected with your question, but FWIW, it's an indication that glucosamine and chondroitin may have some kind of impact on health. This study examined a bunch of supplements and only G&C were associated with lower total mortality:

PMID: 20410091

"Am J Clin Nutr. 2010 Jun;91(6):1791-800. Epub 2010 Apr 21.
Total mortality risk in relation to use of less-common dietary supplements.
Pocobelli G, Kristal AR, Patterson RE, Potter JD, Lampe JW, Kolar A, Evans I, White E.

Department of Epidemiology, University of Washington, Seattle, USA.
BACKGROUND: Dietary supplement use is common in older US adults; however, data on health risks and benefits are lacking for a number of supplements.

OBJECTIVE: We evaluated whether 10-y average intakes of 13 vitamin and mineral supplements and glucosamine, chondroitin, saw palmetto, Ginko biloba, garlic, fish-oil, and fiber supplements were associated with total mortality.

DESIGN: We conducted a prospective cohort study of Washington State residents aged 50-76 y during 2000-2002. Participants (n = 77,719) were followed for mortality for an average of 5 y.

RESULTS: A total of 3577 deaths occurred during 387,801 person-years of follow-up. None of the vitamin or mineral 10-y average intakes were associated with total mortality. Among the nonvitamin-nonmineral supplements, only glucosamine and chondroitin were associated with total mortality. The hazard ratio (HR) when persons with a high intake of supplements (> or =4 d/wk for > or =3 y) were compared with nonusers was 0.83 (95% CI: 0.72, 0.97; P for trend = 0.009) for glucosamine and 0.83 (95% CI: 0.69, 1.00; P for trend = 0.011) for chondroitin. There was also a suggestion of a decreased risk of total mortality associated with a high intake of fish-oil supplements (HR: 0.83; 95% CI: 0.70, 1.00), but the test for trend was not statistically significant.

CONCLUSIONS: For most of the supplements we examined, there was no association with total mortality. Use of glucosamine and use of chondroitin were each associated with decreased total mortality.

PMID: 20410091 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]PMCID: PMC2869514 [Available on 2011/6/1]"

posted by VikingSword at 1:03 PM on March 2, 2011

Glucosamine helped with my elderly dog, so much that if we ran out for more than a week, she would go back to yelping in pain when she jumped off the bed. I know you are not a dog, but she was not susceptible to the placebo effect, so I bring it up.
posted by oneirodynia at 1:18 PM on March 2, 2011

I take it for a few weeks periodically when long working hours give me wrist and elbow pain. the pain goes away, and I'll stop taking it until the next time I get achey. At the moment, it's been over a year since I've needed it. So, yea, works great fro me.
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 1:56 PM on March 2, 2011

Another voice here to say that it worked well for my in-laws' arthritic standard poodle, and dogs don't have the placebo effect, so it probably works to some dogs, anyway.
posted by Asparagirl at 2:14 PM on March 2, 2011

I take Fusion Health Glucosamine Premium Repair Tablets[1]
(three tablets with breakfast) and both my (osteoarthritis) knee pain and the clicking/grinding noise that my knees make seems to get worse when I run out and have to stop taking it for a while until I can get to the shop and buy more.

Of course, that could just be a placebo effect. Do you have access to Cochrane Reviews?

They're systematic reviews of primary research in human health care and health policy. They investigate the effects of interventions for prevention, treatment and rehabilitation.

[1] One 2225mg tablet contains:
Glucosamine hydrochloride 750mg
MSM 334mg
Chondroitin sulfate (bovine) 178mg
Chondroitin sulfate (shark) 89mg
Ginger root 500mg
Black Pepper 250mg
posted by Hot buttered sockpuppets at 4:54 PM on March 2, 2011

Have you tried going gluten-free?
posted by Earl the Polliwog at 10:49 PM on March 2, 2011

There's an interesting article here:

"There is some evidence that suggests that glucosamine alleviates arthritis pain, but the type of glucosamine matters.

“There continues to be a lot of controversy about it. There’s a fair amount of data that glucosamine sulfate is beneficial, but glucosamine hydrochloride is not,” Dr. Altman says. “Almost all of the products that are sold here in the United States are glucosamine hydrochloride. There are no trials demonstrating that glucosamine hydrochloride benefits people with osteoarthritis.”

In the studies that did find benefit for glucosamine sulfate, Dr. Altman says, patients took 1,500 milligrams once a day, which resulted in better absorption in the body than splitting the dose."
posted by Hot buttered sockpuppets at 12:03 AM on March 3, 2011

Thanks everyone! I appreciate your answers and have decided to not take it anymore. Not ready to go gluten-free yet, but will think about it, thanks.
posted by Lynsey at 8:05 PM on April 1, 2011

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