Sorry, Study Says Glucosamine Won't Help Your Aching Back

In Norway, where glucosamine is a prescription drug, a new study has shown that the supplement is no better than a placebo at treating chronic lower back pain and degenerative osteoarthritis. Will this news make the more than 6 million adults who take glucosamine every month reconsider?

From ABC News:

For six months, he and his colleagues gave 250 adults with chronic lower back pain and degenerative osteoarthritis either 2,500 mg daily of glucosamine sulfate or a placebo. At the six-month and one-year marks, there weren’t any significant differences among patients in the two groups. Both groups did seem to be helped by the placebo effect, which is common in pain patients, in which people apparently feel better simply because they are receiving treatment.

Despite mixed reviews to date for glucosamine, the Oslo study had the rigorous elements of being randomized, double-blind and placebo-controlled. Previous studies using glucosamine for low back pain “have either been small in size, or had significant limitations in the design of the trial itself,” said Timothy C. Birdsall, a naturopathic doctor and vice president of integrative medicine at Cancer Treatment Centers of America in Arizona.

Birdsall said that the study results would make him “much more likely to recommend they discontinue the glucosamine, and take other approaches to deal with the pain.”

Critics of the study say that people in Norway have low vitamin D levels that could have messed with the test ( the people in Norway apparently found this sort of offensive) and pointed out that they didn’t study glucosmine in combination with chondroitin.

Glucosamine No Remedy for Lower Back Pain, Says Study [ABCNews]