Glucosamine and chondroitin. Glucosamine and chondroitin are supplements that have gained popularity in the treatment of knee OA. These constituents are found naturally in articular cartilage, which explains the rationale for their use. Glucosamine and chondroitin (or a combination of the 2) are associated with few adverse effects, but the evidence to support their use in knee OA management is mixed.
One large double-blind RCT (the Glucosamine/Chondroitin Arthritis Intervention Trial [GAIT]) concluded that glucosamine, chondroitin, or the combination of the 2 did not have a significant effect on reducing pain from knee OA compared to placebo and did not slow structural joint disease.42 However, this same study found that in a subset of patients with moderate-to-severe knee OA, the combination of glucosamine and chondroitin was mildly effective in reducing pain.42
Multiple studies have shown either no benefit, inconsistent results, or limited benefit of glucosamine and chondroitin in the treatment of knee OA, with the patented crystalline form of glucosamine showing the most efficacy.43-47 The AAOS and the American College of Rheumatology (ACR) do not recommend glucosamine and chondroitin for knee OA management.10,41
In summary, the evidence for glucosamine, chondroitin, or a combination of the 2 for knee OA is mixed with likely limited benefit, but because they are associated with few adverse effects, patients may be offered a 3- to 6-month trial of these supplements if other effective options are exhausted.
Limited-quality evidence suggests that oral NSAIDs and intra-articular (IA) hyaluronic acid (HA) injections are equally efficacious for knee OA pain.38,48 There is insufficient evidence directly comparing oral NSAIDs with IA corticosteroid (CS) injections.
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