Objective: To assess the ability of a topical preparation of glucosamine sulfate and chondroitin sulfate to reduce pain related to osteoarthritis (OA) of the knee.
Methods: Sixty-three patients were randomized to receive either a topical glucosamine and chondroitin preparation or placebo to be used as required over an 8 week period. Efficacy was assessed using a visual analog scale (VAS) for pain as well as the Western Ontario and McMaster Universities Osteoarthritis Index (WOMAC), and the SF-36 questionnaire.
Results: VAS scores indicated a greater mean reduction in pain for the glucosamine/chondroitin preparation group (mean change -3.4 cm, SD 2.6 cm) compared to the placebo group (mean change -1.6 cm, SD 2.7 cm) after 8 weeks. After 4 weeks the difference between active and placebo groups in their mean reduction from baseline was 1.2 (95% CI 0.1 to 2.4, p = 0.03) and after 8 weeks was 1.8 (95% CI for difference between groups, 0.6 to 2.9 cm; p = 0.002).
Conclusion: Topical application of glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate is effective in relieving the pain from OA of the knee and improvement is evident within 4 weeks.