The Effectiveness and Uses of Glucosamine

There have been numerous studies on the effectiveness and uses of glucosamine. Discover its results in the treatment of rheumatic diseases!
The Effectiveness and Uses of Glucosamine

Last update: 21 January, 2021

Glucosamine is the substance the body uses to regenerate and synthesize cartilage. Osteoarthritis, the most common rheumatic disease in the general population, wears down the slippery cartilage that covers the ends of the bones and allows the joints to move smoothly.

Experts have conducted many studies to evaluate the effectiveness and uses of glucosamine. However, the results have been varied. Some of them used a placebo as a comparator, while others used other drugs for the same indication.

On the other hand, we should mention that this substance can be administered as a drug or dietary supplement to strengthen these structures. Glucosamine is normally extracted from crustaceans such as lobster, shrimp, or crabs.

The uses of glucosamine

As we mentioned at the beginning of the article, medical professionals prescribe glucosamine to treat diseases that cause cartilage to gradually wear out, such as rheumatic diseases. For example, arthritis and osteoarthritis.

This substance is the precursor of the molecules that play a role in the development of cartilaginous tissues: glycosaminoglycans and proteoglycans. Using glucosamine to treat diseases such as osteoarthritis is seemingly safe, according to the data we have today, thanks to the clinical trials experts have conducted.

Furthermore, experts are studying its possible immunomodulatory effect in other autoimmune diseases apart from arthritis and osteoarthritis, such as multiple sclerosis. However, these studies are in the animal testing phase.

What are arthritis and osteoarthritis?

It’s very common for people to confuse arthritis with osteoarthritis. This is because both diseases affect the joints and cause similar symptoms, such as joint pain.

Arthritis is a disease that always causes joint inflammation. This inflammation leads to joint pain and swelling. This condition is usually autoimmune in nature. However, it can appear as a consequence of other diseases, such as gout. Some of the following are characteristic symptoms:

  • Pain, even at rest
  • Joint stiffness, especially upon awakening
  • Joint swelling with synovial fluid effusion
  • Other symptoms that vary according to the affected organ

On the other hand, osteoarthritis is a chronic disease that affects many people, especially women. It causes joint degeneration and is usually related to age.

Therefore, osteoarthritis isn’t an autoimmune disease that causes swelling. Instead, it’s a degenerative disease normally related to age and joint aging. Some of the symptoms associated with this disease are:

  • Crepitus (cracking, grating, crunching, or popping that occurs when moving a joint)
  • Pain upon movement
  • Reduced range of movement
  • Possible joint deformation

Studies conducted on the effectiveness of glucosamine

Glucosamine pills.

Experts have conducted numerous studies on the effectiveness of glucosamine. For example, one was conducted in 2012 to verify this drug’s effect on pain relief in the aforementioned diseases. The administration of glucosamine with an NSAID was studied in comparison with the administration of glucosamine on its own. The result was positive.

Another study was conducted in 2015 to compare the combination of chondroitin sulfate and glucosamine for knee pain. The experts conducted it on patients with osteoarthritis. The result showed similar effectiveness in reducing the main symptoms of the disease after a six-month treatment.

Finally, another study was conducted on the effect of glucosamine. It didn’t yield the expected results for the treatment of knee osteoarthritis (OA).

Conclusion on the uses of glucosamine

As you can see, the results of the studies are somewhat variable. Thus, the effects of glucosamine in some rheumatic diseases aren’t yet exactly known.

Experts are still studying this topic in order to get the maximum benefit from this substance and to advance both in rheumatology and general medicine.

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