Researchers say that daily supplement of Chondroitin is as good as Celecoxib (Celebrex) in relieving arthritic pain in the knee. Also, it has no dangerous side effects.
Dr. Jean-Yves Reginster of the Liège State University in Belgium and his colleagues recruited 604 people over the age of 50 with knee osteoarthritis from five European countries and randomly assigned them to take 800 mg of extra-pure Chondroitin sulfate (Chondrosulf), 200 mg of celecoxib (Celebrex) or a placebo every day for six months.
According to the report in Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases, patients who took Chondroitin sulfate or Celecoxib had similar levels of pain relief at the end of the study, and in both groups, the improvement was more significant than for those who took only a placebo.
Register told Reuters Health that the findings are in line with previous studies showing that pharmaceutical grade Chondroitin Sulfate could significantly decrease the progression of knee osteoarthritis.
He emphasized that pharmaceutical grade Chondroitin is not the same as over-the-counter supplements which are made differently and can not enter the joint in concentrations high enough to combat the causes of cartilage degradation and pain.
Dr. Michael Shepard from the Hoag Orthopedic Institute in Orange, California, said that the study had a relatively low number of participants and that most US studies of this type would have to run for two years instead of six months.
Also, Shepard told Reuters Health that US-based studies of Chondroitin had mixed results. Some patients have found that supplements are as effective as ibuprofen (also an NSAID), and some have found that chondroitin sulfate is not adequate.
“I tell my patients to be careful,” Shepard said in an e-mail. “There are the mixed results of chondroitin in the journals. I advise to try chondroitin for a month as a test, and if a patient likes it and feels better, then he continues to take it.”
“If you are going to take an NSAID for a longer time, then you need regular follow-up with your doctor,” Shepard warned.
Dr. Rachel Wolfe from the Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center in Winston-Salem, North Carolina agreed that chondroitin is “reasonable choice” for some people, especially those with contraindications to NSAIDs.
Dr. Rachel Wolfe also said: “However, it should not be replaced other treatments such as quadriceps strengthening exercises, and weight loss, which provide bigger benefits. Chondroitin should be used in conjunction with these measures.”
“Chondroitin is not a miracle pill, but if it allows people to feel less pain and be more active. If a patient will lose weight and strengthen his muscles, it will work even better,” Wolfe told Reuters Health via e-mail. “Studies point out that medicine is still an art – we do not have perfect answers, and we have to individualize treatment for each patient.”
The study was sponsored by IBSA Institut Biochimique SA, a pharmaceutical company based in Lugano, Switzerland, which produces the chondroitin sulfate supplements used in the test.