Glucosamine No Better Than Placebo for Chronic Low Back Pain

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A Norwegian study published in the July 7 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association finds that 6-month course of oral glucosamine did not reduce pain in patients with chronic low back pain (LBP) and degenerative lumbar osteoarthritis (OA). The authors conducted a double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled trial conducted of 250 patients older than 25 years of age with chronic LBP (longer than 6 months) and degenerative lumbar OA. The patients were randomized to receive either 1,500 mg of oral glucosamine or placebo for 6 months. At baseline, mean Roland Morris Disability Questionnaire (RMDQ) scores were 9.2 (95 percent confidence interval [CI], 8.4-10.0) for the glucosamine group and 9.7 (95 percent CI, 8.9-10.5) for the placebo group (p=0.37).

At 6 months, the mean RMDQ score was the same for the glucosamine and placebo groups (5.0; 95 percent CI, 4.2-5.8). At 1 year, the mean RMDQ scores were 4.8 (95 percent CI, 3.9-5.6) for glucosamine and 5.5 (95 percent CI, 4.7-6.4) for the placebo group. There was no statistically significant difference in change between groups at either 6-month or 1-year follow-ups (p=0.72).

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