Osteoarthritis supplements have no impact on symptoms

September 17th, 2010 - 4:24 pm ICT by IANS  

London, Sep 17 (IANS) Two supplements prescribed to nearly a million osteoarthritis sufferers in Britain last year did not work.
Glucosamine and chondroitin, prescribed to reduce pain caused by osteoarthritis in the hips and knees, have no impact on the symptoms. Chondroitin is also not absorbed by the body, according to experts.

Health authorities should stop funding the supplements and prescribing these to new patients, scientists from the University of Bern in Switzerland said.

Doctors prescribed the supplements to more than 900,000 people in the UK in 2009, according to the charity Arthritis Care, and many more osteoarthritis sufferers could have bought them over the counter.

The chronic condition is the most common type of arthritis in the UK, affecting an estimated 8.5 million people, reports the Telegraph.

Osteoarthritis is usually treated by painkillers and anti-inflammatory drugs but long-term use can lead to gastric bleeding and ulcer in some patients, besides heart problems, according to the British Medical Journal.

Glucosamine and chondroitin have increasingly been prescribed to patients in recent years with global sales reaching almost $2 billion (&pound1.3 bn).

The supplements are natural compounds found in cartilage, which are available for as little as &pound8 from a variety of pharmacies.

But the study said there was no evidence of them having any impact on the condition, other than a psychological benefit.

The researchers, led by Prof. Peter Jüni of the University of Bern wrote: “Compared with placebo, glucosamine, chondroitin, and their combination do not reduce joint pain or have an impact on narrowing of joint space.”

Scientists assessed the results of 10 previous trials involving 3,803 people suffering from osteoarthritis in the hip or knee.

There was better news for osteoarthritis sufferers as scientists claimed eating broccoli could help prevent the onset of the condition.

Scientists from the University of East Anglia said tests had indicated that sulforaphane, a compound found in the vegetable, could fight enzymes that destroy the joints.

Osteoarthritis is a degenerative process in the heavily stressed joints of the lower limbs, particularly knee joints. Obesity and overweight are among the major factors in causing the condition.

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