Forget Glucosamine For Arthritis

Glucosamine has been touted as an effective supplement for osteoarthritis, and the Arthritis Research Centre of Canada under the rheumatologist Dr. Jolanda Cibere at the University of British Columbia led a study to get solid data.

Patients from the ages of 44 to 88 years from all over Canada who had used the supplement for an average of two years and stated that they had at least moderate improvent from knee joint pain were entered into a maintenance study. They received either a placebo (“fake” pills without glucosamine) or glucosamine for six months. During this time they were monitored for arthritic flare-ups including pain and reduced physical activity.

The results were the following: 42% of the patients who were taking the placebo reported flare-ups of the arthritis problems, and 45% of the glucosamine users had flare-ups. The difference was not statistically different. The severity of arthritis had been the same in both the control group and the group that took glucosamine.
This leads to the conclusion that continued use of glucosamine is of no benefit to a patient who hopes to improve knee osteoarthritis.

Glucosamine And Fake Pills (Placebo) Equally Ineffective Against Arthritis As Shown By Study

Forget Glucosamine For Arthritis

Forget Glucosamine For Arthritis

There is the question about the possibility of initial benefits, but it seems to be anecdotal rather than solid evidence, and there may be a placebo effect. Unfortunately the data did not support the notion that glucosamine supplements would give pain relief. It is really up to each individual to decide, whether to give glucosamine a try. Looking at the lack of results in long-term use it seems not warranted spending amounts of $15 to $50 per month for such an ineffective supplement.

More info about osteoarthritis treatment:

Comment: There are other studies that disagree with this study pointing out that glucosamine combined with chondroitin does help for osteoarthritis pain.

Reference: The Medical Post, November 16, 2004, page 5

Last edited October 27, 2014


Leeches And Arthritis Pain; Old Facts And New Insights

Leeches have been used for centuries, particularly in Europe, for the treatment of chronic conditions and for arthritis pain. A group of researchers under Dr. Gustav J. Dobos from the University of Essen (Kliniken Essen-Mitte) in Germany published a paper in the Nov. 4, 2003 edition of the Annals of Internal Medicine (Ann Intern Med 2003;139:724-730,781-783) about the use of leeches in osteoarthritis, and particularly with knee arthritis.

In a randomized trial that lasted 91 days the researchers applied 4 to 6 leeches once to the knees of one group of 24 patients and used conventional diclofenac gel topical applications twice daily in a matched control group. On average the leeches fell off after 70 minutes. A simple pain score (Western Ontario and McMaster Universities Osteoarthritis Index (WOMAC) visual analog scale pain scores) was used to quantitate the pain that the patients experienced in both groups. I have tabulated the results after 7 days of therapy and included the relative improvement in the pain score here, based on their data.

Leeches And Arthritis Pain; Old Facts And New Insights

Leeches And Arthritis Pain; Old Facts And New Insights

According to Dr. Dobos there are powerful anti-inflammatories and hyaluronidase in the saliva of the leeches that have not been defined further. Now that these initial investigations have shown a more than 3-fold beneficial effect of the leeches versus conventional anti-inflammatory therapy for osteoarthritis, it is the intention of the group to define the active pharmaceutical ingredient from the leeches further.

Relief from osteoarthritis knee pain using leeches or diclofenac
Arthritis therapy: WOMAC
pain scores improved…
Relative improvement
of pain score:
leeches (applied
from 19
to 52
diclofenac gel
(twice per day for 28 days)
from 42
to 52

Apart from pain control other beneficial effects such as improvements in ranges of motion, swelling and inflammation were also noted, again more so in the group treated with leeches. However, leeches have the disadvantage that they puncture the skin and that they can transmit infections (from Aeromonas hydrophila). It is hoped that in future medication can be developed from this line of work that can be taken in pill form without the dangers of applying leeches.

Here is a link to a review of osteoarthritis from the Net Health Book.

Last edited October 26, 2014