Chondroitin comes out on top

Chondroitin sulphate has been found to reduce the long-term progression of knee osteoarthritis (OA) more effectively than celecoxib, researchers told the recent American College of Rheumatology annual meeting held in San Francisco.

“We felt the present study was necessary in order to establish whether chondroitin sulphate can truly and effectively reduce the progression of the disease in patients suffering from knee osteoarthritis,” says lead investigator Jean-Pierre Pelletier, professor of medicine, at the University of Montreal.

The study compared 1,200mg chondroitin and 200mg celecoxib daily for two years in 194 people with OA and inflammation of the synovial membrane in the knee. Chondroitin attenuated cartilage loss in the whole knee, particularly in the inner half (medial tibiofemoral compartment) compared to celecoxib.

Chondroitin and celecoxib markedly reduced knee swelling and fluid in 51 and 39 per cent of patients respectively and alleviated pain to a similar extent. Pain scores declined by 48 and 55 per cent respectively on a visual analogue scale at the end of the study. Both chondroitin and celecoxib reduced paracetamol use.

“This study demonstrates that both chondroitin sulphate and celecoxib are equally effective at reducing the symptoms of knee OA patients. However, only chondroitin sulphate was found to be capable of slowing down the progression of the disease by reducing the loss of cartilage,” Professor Pelletier remarks.

It should be noted that the study assessed pharmaceutical grade chondroitin, so the results might not apply to all chondroitin products, such as supplements.

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