Glucosamine, chondroitin, and manganese ascorbate for degenerative joint disease of the knee or low back: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled pilot study

Mil Med. 1999 Feb;164(2):85-91.


Objective: A 16-week randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled crossover trial of a combination of glucosamine HCl (1,500 mg/day), chondroitin sulfate (1,200 mg/day), and manganese ascorbate (228 mg/day) in degenerative joint disease (DJD) of the knee or low back was conducted.

Methods: Thirty-four males from the U.S. Navy diving and special warfare community with chronic pain and radiographic DJD of the knee or low back were randomized. A summary disease score incorporated results of pain and functional questionnaires, physical examination scores, and running times. Changes were presented as a percentage of the patient's average score.

Results: Knee osteoarthritis symptoms were relieved as demonstrated by the summary disease score (-16.3%; p = 0.05), patient assessment of treatment effect (p = 0.02), visual analog scale for pain recorded at clinic visits (-26.6%; p = 0.05) and in a diary (-28.6%; p = 0.02), and physical examination score (-43.3%; p = 0.01). Running times did not change. The study neither demonstrated, nor excluded, a benefit for spinal DJD. Side effect frequency was similar to that at baseline. There were no hematologic effects.

Conclusions: The combination therapy relieves symptoms of knee osteoarthritis. A larger data set is needed to determine the value of this therapy for spinal DJD. Short-term combination therapy appears safe in this setting.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Activities of Daily Living
  • Adult
  • Ascorbic Acid / therapeutic use*
  • Chondroitin Sulfates / therapeutic use*
  • Chronic Disease
  • Cross-Over Studies
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Drug Combinations
  • Glucosamine / therapeutic use*
  • Humans
  • Lumbar Vertebrae*
  • Male
  • Manganese Compounds / therapeutic use*
  • Middle Aged
  • Military Personnel*
  • Naval Medicine
  • Osteoarthritis / diagnostic imaging
  • Osteoarthritis / drug therapy*
  • Osteoarthritis, Knee / diagnostic imaging
  • Osteoarthritis, Knee / drug therapy*
  • Pain / etiology
  • Pilot Projects
  • Radiography
  • Running
  • Surveys and Questionnaires


  • Drug Combinations
  • Manganese Compounds
  • Chondroitin Sulfates
  • Glucosamine
  • Ascorbic Acid