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Glucosamine hydrochloride trials for osteoarthritis

Two RCTs were conducted to evaluate the role of glucosamine hydrochloride in the treatment of knee osteoarthritis. A review article also looked at its effects for hip and knee osteoarthritis.

Trial 1

The first trial included 118 people and lasted 8 weeks. Participants were randomly selected to receive 1,500 mg a day of glucosamine hydrochloride or a placebo.

  • 49% of participants in the treatment group reported that they were ‘better than at the start of the trial’, but 40% of the participants who got placebo capsules said the same, which suggests that glucosamine hydrochloride isn’t significantly better than a placebo in improving osteoarthritis-related symptoms.
  • In addition, this trial found that glucosamine hydrochloride wasn’t significantly better than the placebo in reducing pain, stiffness and physical function.

Trial 2‡

In the second trial, 1,583 people with knee osteoarthritis were randomly assigned to receive one of the following treatments once a day for 24 weeks:

The trial found the following results:

  • Participants who received glucosamine hydrochloride or chondroitin sulphate didn’t report a significant improvement in pain, stiffness and physical function when compared to participants who were assigned the placebo.
  • The only groups who achieved significant improvement in osteoarthritis-related symptoms when compared to placebo were those who were assigned celecoxib, and those who had moderate-to-severe knee pain at the outset of the trial and were given the glucosamine hydrochloride/chondroitin sulphate combination.
  • Two years after treatment, 662 people were reassessed. None of the treatments were reported to give greater improvements than the placebo in pain and function measurements.

In RCTs generally, side-effects of glucosamine hydrochloride were only mild and infrequent.

Review article (2010)

Taking glucosamine (or its combination with chondroitin) didn’t result in a clinically meaningful reduction in joint pain or change clinical aspects of the joint.

‡ A trial of low quality. Results of this trial were given a lower weighting when we came to our conclusion about the compound.

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