Got back pain? Glucosamine won’t help.

Chronic back pain in a common problem in the U.S. afflicting more than 20  million people. Many turn to the supplement glucosamine, despite little solid evidence that it helps people suffering from chronic back pain or joint pain caused by osteoarthritis.

A study published in the current issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association reports that daily intake of 1,500 milligrams of the supplement for six months did not reduce “pain-related disability.”

The researchers at Oslo University in Norway randomly assigned 250 people with chronic back pain due to osteoarthritis to two groups – one got the glucosamine and the other took placebos. The researchers reported “no statistically significant difference in change between groups was found when assessed after the 6-month intervention and at 1 year.”

“Based on our results it seems unwise to recommend glucosamine to all patients with chronic [lower back pain] and degenerative lumbar osteoarthritis,” the researchers concluded.

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