Professor Jüni and colleagues analysed the results of 10 published trials involving 3,803 patients with knee or hip osteoarthritis. They assessed changes in levels of pain after patients took glucosamine, chondroitin, or their combination with placebo or head to head.
They found no clinically relevant effect of chondroitin, glucosamine, or their combination on perceived joint pain or on joint space narrowing.
Despite this finding, some patients are convinced that these preparations are beneficial, say the authors. They suggest this might be because of the natural course of osteoarthritis or the placebo effect.
"Compared with placebo, glucosamine, chondroitin, and their combination do not reduce joint pain or have an impact on narrowing of joint space. Health authorities and health insurers should be discouraged from funding glucosamine and chondroitin treatment," they conclude.
The researchers argue that there is, however, no harm in taking the supplements as long as they are not covered by health authorities and insurers. This, of course, assumes that a financial loss for no purpose is not a 'harm', nor is believing any claim made by a pharmaceutical manufacturer (whether Big Pharma or Big Altie).