Objective: We assessed the efficacy of S-adenosylmethionine (SAMe), a dietary supplement now available in the Unites States, compared with that of placebo or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) in the treatment of osteoarthritis (OA).
Study design: This was a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials.
Data sources: We identified randomized controlled trials of SAMe versus placebo or NSAIDS for the treatment of OA through computerized database searches and reference lists.
Outcomes measured: The outcomes considered were pain, functional limitation, and adverse effects.
Results: Eleven studies that met the inclusion criteria were weighted on the basis of precision and were combined for each outcome variable. When compared with placebo, SAMe is more effective in reducing functional limitation in patients with OA (effect size [ES] =.31; 95% confidence interval [CI],.099-.520), but not in reducing pain (ES =.22; 95% CI, -.247 to.693). This result, however, is based on only 2 studies. SAMe seems to be comparable with NSAIDs (pain: ES =.12; 95% CI, -.029 to.273; functional limitation: ES =.025; 95% CI, -.127 to.176). However, those treated with SAMe were less likely to report adverse effects than those receiving NSAIDs.
Conclusions: SAMe appears to be as effective as NSAIDs in reducing pain and improving functional limitation in patients with OA without the adverse effects often associated with NSAID therapies.