More than half of those over 60 have osteoarthritis (OA) of the hand, a painful chronic inflammatory condition. There are few therapies for OA without side effects, and little research.
In one study, 162 people with OA of the hand, average age 63, took 800 mg of chondroitin sulfate per day or a placebo. After six months, pain had decreased 11 percent for the placebo group and 20 percent for the chondroitin group. Hand function improved 2 percent for the placebo group and 10 percent for the chondroitin group.
Doctors said that while chondroitin takes several months to become fully effective, it does not produce the harsh long-term side effects of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).