Study under review: Dietary supplements for treating osteoarthritis: a systematic review and meta-analysis.
Osteoarthritis is a degenerative joint disease resulting in pain, stiffness, and swelling. It most commonly affects the knees, hips, and hands, and is frequently characterized by damage to cartilage. An estimated 12% of the U.S. population, particularly the elderly, have osteoarthritis, and hip and knee osteoarthritis are the 11th leading cause of disability worldwide. In addition, the economic burden of osteoarthritis is estimated to be 0.25% to 0.50% of a country’s GDP (the annual market value of all goods and services within the country). Osteoarthritis is a disease that needs attention and researchers should be encouraged to investigate options for its prevention and treatment.
Distinct risk factors for osteoarthritis, summarized in Figure 1, include genetic susceptibility, morphological variations in bones and joints, traumatic joint injury, excessive joint stress, aging, and obesity. Obesity is a major risk factor for osteoarthritis of the knee, and weight loss can lead to improvements in the condition, though more long-term studies are warranted. Exercise can be useful for reducing pain and improving joint function, though exercising with sore joints can be difficult, and not all forms of exercise are suitable for every patient. Pharmaceutically, treatment mostly revolves around the use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs). While effective in reducing pain, these drugs aren’t without their risks, which include stroke and heart attacks.
Supplements are a popular drug alternative among people with osteoarthritis. Supplements for joint health can be loosely placed in two overlapping categories: structural and repair, which are intended to provide building blocks of joint tissue and facilitate its reconstruction, and anti-inflammatory agents, which reduce pain and may help prevent the deterioration of cartilage.
Glucosamine and chondroitin are the best known and most used supplements for osteoarthritis. They are currently the only supplement endorsed by the Osteoarthritis Research International group, and are used by 54-59% of people with osteoarthritis who decide to take supplements. However, a quick walk into any supplement store will reveal many other products marketed under the guise of joint health. The study under review is a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials involving several joint supplements, so as to provide a broad and updated picture of which compounds may benefit joint health.
Osteoarthritis is a common degenerative disease of the joints. Many people with osteoarthritis resort to using supplements to help alleviate joint pain and stiffness, but both the efficacy and safety of popular supplements remains controversial. The study under review is a systematic review and meta-analysis aimed at clarifying the present state of the evidence for various joint supplements.
Other Articles in Issue #40 (February 2018)
Interview: Gabrielle Fundaro PhD, CISSN
In this interview, we chat with researcher and weightlifter Gabrielle Fundaro about her health routine, the challenges of teaching complex biological concepts, the microbiome, and nutrition.
Interview: Andrew Gelman, PhD
In this interview, we chat about important aspects of statistics and study design with one of the luminaries in the field.
A look under the hood at carbohydrate intake during exercise
Higher carbohydrate intake during submaximal exercise can help boost performance. This study explores why.
Some TLC from ALC in depression
Acetyl-L-carnitine can pass through the blood-brain barrier more easily than L-carnitine. This meta-analysis takes a look at whether it can help with depression.
Can curcumin reduce cardiovascular risk factors?
Curcumin is thought to have multiple possible health benefits. This meta-analysis zeros in on its effects on cardiovascular risk factors.
Can whole eggs help make swole legs?
Getting enough protein is essential to help stimulate muscle growth. But the type of protein-containing food can also play a role.
Zinc: an alternative path away from type 2 diabetes?
Zinc may be helpful with glycemic control for people with type 2 diabetes. But can it also help with prediabetes?