Although there may be several benefits of glucosamine, the dietary supplement is primarily known for its use as an osteoarthritis treatment. Most researchers think that glucosamine works for arthritis by decreasing inflammation, stimulating chondrocytes, and decreasing the production of certain compounds that degrade cartilage. However, more research is needed to confirm these supposed benefits.
This article focuses on the benefits of glucosamine for treating osteoarthritis.
Using Glucosamine for Osteoarthritis
Osteoarthritis, the most common type of arthritis, is especially prevalent in older people. The disease is thought to affect more than 20 million people in the United States. Osteoarthritis starts when cartilage begins to become ragged and wears away. Cartilage is the tissue that pads bones in a joint. At its worst, the disease causes all of the cartilage in a joint to wear away, leaving bones that rub against each other. Researchers do not know the exact cause or causes of osteoarthritis.
Osteoarthritis symptoms can range from stiffness and mild pain that comes and goes with activities like walking, bending, or stooping to severe joint pain that keeps on even when you rest or try to sleep. Sometimes osteoarthritis causes your joints to feel stiff when you haven't moved them in awhile, such as after riding in the car, but the stiffness goes away when you move the joint. Over time, this condition can also cause problems moving joints -- and sometimes disability -- if your back, knees, or hips are affected.
While there is no cure, osteoarthritis treatments can ease pain and improve function. A treatment plan can involve:
- Medicines (see Osteoarthritis Medication)
- Exercise (see Arthritis and Exercise)
- Other pain-relief options
- Surgery (see Hip Replacement or Knee Replacement)
- Alternative therapies (see Acupuncture for Osteoarthritis or Natural Cures for Arthritis).
(Click Living With Osteoarthritis or Diet for Osteoarthritis to learn more about managing your condition.)
Glucosamine is an attractive option for many people, as it is unlikely to cause severe side effects and has the potential to actually slow down the progression of the disease. However, there is significant controversy about whether or not the product actually works.
(Click Does Glucosamine Work? for more information)