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Ed Yeates ReportingAn over the counter supplement appears to significantly reduce knee pain in a small sub group of arthritis patients. That's according to a national study, part of which occurred here in Utah.
In this day when high end prescribed arthritis medications have been linked to potentially dangerous side effects, patients were hoping for some good news from these supplement trials. Glucosamine is a natural amino sugar many have theorized benefits connective tissue, including cartilage damaged in osteoarthritis. A molecule called Chondroitin is also a partner, retaining water in cartilage.
Pill supplements were given to almost 1600 patients at 16 medical centers, including the University of Utah. While the study as a whole showed no difference between the supplement and a placebo, a significant change was observed in a small subset of patients with moderate to severe pain.
Daniel Clegg, M.D., Chief, U of U Division of Rheumatology: "They made up only 20 percent of the overall population, so it was a relatively small subset, but the response was fairly robust. Almost 80 percent of the patients had an improvement of 20 percent."
Enough, Dr. Daniel Clegg says, to warrant more experiments. The GAIT study, as it was called, measured only pain. But half the participants have agreed to stay on the supplement for two years to see if damaged tissue is repairing itself.
Dr. Clegg: "And the outcome of that study will determine whether or not their x-rays progress as rapidly while they're taking the supplement as they do when they're not taking the supplement."
While the trials used pharmaceutical grade glucosamine and chondroitin, the government does not regulate the supplements sold over the counter.