Popular supplement for back pain may not be helpful

Glucosamine is a hugely popular supplement taken by millions of people in hopes of helping with arthritic pain. It is estimated that up to 25% of all back pain suffers will try the supplement glucosamine “to see if it helps”.  

How helpful is it for arthritic back pain?  Well, an impressive research  study from the University of Oslo in Norwaysuggests that you should save your money as glucosamine  proved no more helpful than the placebo.

The study looked at 250 patients with lower back pain that had confirmed arthritic changes on MRI.  One group was given glucosamine and the other a placebo and both groups were monitored for 1 year.  Patients taking glucosamine had no statistically or clinically significant advantage over those taking placebo on any outcome measures at either the 6 month or 12 month interval.

The study was limited to those with confirmed arthritic changes as per MRI and the authors of the study caution against making broad conclusions about the effectiveness of glucosamine for helping other types of musculoskeletal pain.

 In my clinical experience, it seems that about 50% of the people who take glucosamine for various aligments seem to benefit from it.  My advise would be to try it anyway for about 6 weeks and then make your own decision.  Good luck!