Chondroitin sulfate improves osteoarthritis (OA) knee pain and functional limitations in walking and daily activities as effectively as the anti-inflammatory drug celecoxib (Celebrex), according to a new study published recently in Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases. But U.S. readers should know, there’s a catch: the researchers tested a version of chondroitin sulfate that is not available in this country.
A popular dietary supplement appears to slow the progression of knee osteoarthritis (OA) and is as effective at controlling pain as a widely used prescription medication, according to a study presented at the 2015 American College of Rheumatology Annual Meeting. A team of Canadian researchers found that, over a span of two years, patients with knee OA who took chondroitin sulfate, which is sold over the counter (OTC), lost less knee cartilage than a second group of patients treated with the prescription nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) celecoxib (Celebrex). This new study fuels an ongoing debate over whether OA patients can benefit from OTC supplements such as chondroitin.
Chondroitin is a naturally occurring molecule your body uses to build healthy cartilage, the shock-absorbing tissue that protects the ends of bones where they form joints. (Gradual loss of cartilage leads to the pain, stiffness and other symptoms of OA.) Chondroitin supplements are made from cartilage taken from animals, such as sharks and cows, though they also can be produced synthetically. In theory, the supplements help restore lost cartilage, though some evidence suggests that they reduce inflammation, too. Chondroitin is often sold in combination with another dietary supplement marketed for joint health, glucosamine.
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