21 abril, 2008

Osteoarthritis treatments: Glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate supplements

Glucosamine and chondroitin introduction

For patients who have evidence of osteoarthritis in their spine (as seen on an x-ray) and who have had other causes of back pain and neck pain ruled out by their health care provider, glucosamine sulfate and chondroitin sulfate may be a treatment option.

While glucosamine sulfate and chondroitin have been taken orally since the 1960’s in Europe, it is only recently that these supplements have been used in the United States as an alternative treatment for osteoarthritis or degenerative joint disease.

However, more research is needed before it can be said that glucosamine sulfate and chondroitin are safe and/or are effective in the treatment of osteoarthritis.

What is osteoarthritis?

When cartilage becomes worn, exposed bones can rub together and the painful symptoms of osteoarthritis may appear. Osteoarthritis can affect any joint, including those throughout the spine.

Conventional medicine does not yet have a proven treatment to stop or slow the progression of osteoarthritis. Traditional medical treatment includes drug therapy to control the pain associated with osteoarthritis.

These treatments are sometimes disappointing for physicians and patients because medications may not provide complete relief and can have unwanted side effects. Some of these patients may be candidates for nutritional supplements like glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate.

Use of glucosamine and chondroitin as nutritional supplements

Many Americans are using nutritional supplements, such as glucosamine and chondroitin, in hopes of improving general health and for treating a specific disease. One survey by Reuters found that 36% of Americans use nutritional supplements, and that many of those people believe their use resulted in a cure .
Some of these alternative therapies have recently gained acceptance by traditional medical doctors due to an increase in demand by health care consumers as well as increasing evidence that some of these supplements actually help patients.

However, in general, very little scientific information exists on nutritional supplements in relation to diseases of the spine.
Por, Christopher D. Chaput, MD November 29, 2000

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