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Glucosamine Supplement May Not Help Knee Pain

Last updated Sept. 18, 2015

Approved by: Maulik P. Purohit MD MPH

New research found no evidence that drinking a glucosamine supplement reduced knee cartilage damage, relieved pain or improved function in individuals with chronic knee pain.


A new study, published in Arthritis and Rheumatology, found that daily consumption of glucosamine has little to no effect on knee pain, bone bruises, or the prevention of cartilage breakdown in the knee area.

Glucosamine is a naturally occurring compound in the body, essential for strengthening cartilage and padding the bones and joints. It has been commonly used to naturally treat chronic knee pain.

The researchers monitored 201 participants with mild to moderate knee pain in one or both knees. The study was double-blind for optimal results. 98 participants drank 1,500 milligrams of glucosamine per day while 103 participants drank a 16-ounce bottle of diet lemonade placebo for 24 weeks.

MRI scans were used to assess the benefits of glucosamine. Urine tests were also conducted to check for the reduced presence of C-telopeptides of type II collagen (CTX-II), a signal of cartilage tissue damage.

The researchers found that 70 percent of participants experienced no change, whereas 18 percent experience worsened conditions. Only 10 percent felt an improvement. There was also no change in the levels of CTX-II detected in participants' urine. 

"Our study found no evidence that drinking a glucosamine supplement reduced knee cartilage damage, relieved pain or improved function in individuals with chronic knee pain," said researcher Dr. C. Kent Kwoh, director of the University of Arizona Arthritis Center.

Additional Resource:

The Joints on Glucosamine (JOG) Study: The effect of oral glucosamine on joint structure, a randomized trial

Reviewed and Approved by a member of the DoveMed Editorial Board
First uploaded: March 18, 2014
Last updated: Sept. 18, 2015