Glucosamine is used by many for pain relief. A new research study published in the Journal of American Medicine says the supplement doesn’t have any effect on lower back pain. The research was conducted at a hospital clinic in Norway with 250 adults over the age of 25. Each adult had chronic lower back pain for more than six months, and degenerative lumbar osteoarthritis. Patients in the study were also given MRIs. To be included in the 250 participant group, a patient’s MRI had to show a degenerative process taking place in the lower back. The reason for this requirement is the belief held by some that glucosamine has the ability to generate cartilage growth.
The study group was split into two sections of 125 patients. Each section received either a daily intake of 1500 milligrams of glucosamine, or placebo for six months. Each participant received three glucosamine capsules daily, or three placebo capsules containing cellulose. At six and twelve months, assessments were made about the pain levels. The study results indicated glucosamine doesn’t reduce lower back pain.
“Our findings suggest that glucosamine is not associated with a significant difference in pain-related disability, low back and leg pain, health-related quality of life, global perceived effect of treatment, or use of concomitant medications or therapy.”
The authors did note glucosamine could still hold some benefit for osteoarthritis of the knee, and that several studies showing such benefits could have merit. One of the strengths of their study, they said, is that glucosamine is a prescription medication in Norway, and therefore could not be contaminated with over-the-counter products. In other words, the glucosamine they used in their study was very likely to be only that, and have no other ingredients because it is regulated.
One peculiar aspect of the study results is that both groups reported an improvement in lower back function. Such information could be an indication of the power of belief in the experience of pain. If a person believes they are receiving a treatment that works, their pain might be relieved in some manner. They might also have a better attitude about accepting it, and working with it instead of being angry and sad.