Family Circle - - ON DUTY -

There are rows of them in the joint health sec­tion of the drug­store. Your 10K-run­ning neigh­bor swears by them. Can they re­ally help pro­tect your joints? Ex­perts are skep­ti­cal. Since glu­cosamine and chon­droitin are sub­stances that oc­cur nat­u­rally in car­ti­lage, the idea is to bathe your joints with more of the good stuff. “But it hasn’t been proven that if you in­gest them in a pill they will make their way into the joints,” says David Fel­son, MD, a rheuma­tol­o­gist and arthri­tis pre­ven­tion spe­cial­ist at Bos­ton Univer­sity School of Medicine. “It’s likely they’ll just get bro­ken down by the di­ges­tive sys­tem.” The most com­pre­hen­sive study, the Na­tional In­sti­tute of Health’s Glu­cosamine/chon­droitin Arthri­tis In­ter­ven­tion Trial (GAIT), found that arthri­tis suf­fer­ers who took the two sup­ple­ments showed no sig­nif­i­cant im­prove­ment in knee pain or func­tion. How­ever, a small sub­set of sub­jects with mod­er­ate to se­vere arthri­tis did re­port some pain re­lief. Or­tho­pe­dic sur­geon Hany Bedair notes that more re­cent re­search has not con­firmed this ef­fect, but he adds: “Some of my pa­tients tell me they feel they’ve ben­e­fited.” Be­cause arthri­tis is a com­plex dis­ease, he says that try­ing sup­ple­ments should be only one part of a mul­ti­fac­eted treat­ment plan.

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