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Glucosamine Similar to Placebo in Treating Back Pain

In LBP patients with osteoarthritis, glucosamine, placebo linked to similar pain-related disability

TUESDAY, July 6 (HealthDay News) -- Compared with placebo, treatment with glucosamine is not associated with reductions in pain-related disability in people with chronic low back pain and degenerative lumbar osteoarthritis, according to a study in the July 7 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Philip Wilkens, of the Oslo University Hospital in Norway, and colleagues randomized 250 patients to take 1,500 mg of glucosamine daily or placebo (125 subjects in each arm) over six months. The patients were older than 25 and had chronic low back pain and degenerative lumbar osteoarthritis.

The researchers found that the mean pain-related disability scores -- as defined by the Roland Morris Disability Questionnaire (RMDQ) -- were the same in the glucosamine group and the placebo group (5.0) at six months. At one year, the glucosamine group's mean RMDQ scores were slightly lower than those in the placebo group (4.8 versus 5.5), but the difference was not statistically significant. Both groups reported mild adverse affects: 40 in the glucosamine group and 46 in the placebo group (P = .48).

"Based on our results, it seems unwise to recommend glucosamine to all patients with chronic low back pain and degenerative lumbar osteoarthritis. Further research is needed to clarify whether glucosamine is advantageous in an alternative low back pain population," the authors write.

The glucosamine and placebo used in the study were produced by and purchased from Pharma Nord.

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