Is glucosamine effective for lumbar disk osteoarthritis?

January 01, 0001

Is glucosamine effective for lumbar disk osteoarthritis?

Lumbar disk osteoarthritis is a common cause of mechanical low back pain. Glucosamine has been used to treat osteoarthritis, but has not been examined specifically for lumbar spinal osteoarthritis. These Norwegian researchers sought to investigate the effect of glucosamine in patients with chronic LBP and degenerative lumbar OA. They performed a double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled trial with 250 patients with chronic LBP (>6 months) and degenerative lumbar OA. Patients were randomized to 1500 mg of oral glucosamine daily (n = 125) or placebo (n = 125) for 6 months, with assessment of effect after the 6-month intervention period and at 1 year. The primary outcome was pain-related disability measured with the Roland Morris Disability Questionnaire (RMDQ). Secondary outcomes were results from pain- scales of patients at rest and while actice, and the quality-of-life EuroQol-5 Dimensions (EQ-5D) instrument.

The researchers report: "At baseline, mean RMDQ scores were 9.2 for glucosamine and 9.7 for the placebo group. At 6 months, the mean RMDQ score was the same for the glucosamine and placebo groups (5.0). At 1 year, the mean RMDQ scores were 4.8 for glucosamine and 5.5 for the placebo group. No statistically significant difference in change between groups was found when assessed after the 6-month intervention period and at 1 year: RMDQ, LBP at rest, LBP during activity and quality-of-life EQ-5D. Mild adverse events were reported in 40 patients in the glucosamine group and 46 in the placebo group."

The researchers concluded: "Among patients with chronic LBP and degenerative lumbar OA, 6-month treatment with oral glucosamine compared with placebo did not result in reduced pain-related disability after the 6-month intervention and after 1-year follow-up."

This randomized controlled trial found no evidence that glucosamine was helpful in chronic low back pain with disc osteoarthritis

For the full abstract, click here.

JAMA 304(1):45-52, 7 July 2010
© 2010 American Medical Association
Effect of Glucosamine on Pain-Related Disability in Patients With Chronic Low Back Pain and Degenerative Lumbar Osteoarthritis- A Randomized Controlled Trial. Philip Wilkens, Inger B. Scheel, Oliver Grundnes, Christian Hellum, Kjersti Storheim.

Category: M. Musculoskeletal. Keywords: low back pain, chronic low back pain, LBP, osteoarthritis, glucosamine, randomized controlled trial., journal watch.
Synopsis edited by Dr Paul Schaefer, Toledo, Ohio. Posted on Global Family Doctor 20 July 2010

Pearls are an independent product of the Cochrane primary care group and are meant for educational use and not to guide clinical care.