Osteoarthritis is estimated to affect 20 million people and may double over the next 10 years. A promising treatment therapy is supplementation with chondroitin sulfate, a natural compound found in healthy cartilage.
Although short-term trials look promising, few long-term studies have been published. A group of international researchers participated in a massive study examining the effects of long-term supplementation with chondroitin sulfate on structural and symptomatic changes in people with knee osteoarthritis. A total of 622 patients with knee osteoarthritis randomly took chondroitin sulfate (800 mg per day) or placebo for two years.
The chondroitin group showed significantly less joint space narrowing, a sign that supplementation slowed the progression of the disease. The chondroitin group also responded to treatment faster as shown by lower rating of pain. There were also no differences in side effects between supplementation and placebo.
The significant improvement in structural changes associated with chondroitin as well as reduced pain provides strong evidence for this therapy as a method to slow the progression of knee osteoarthritis.