Comparative effectiveness of glucosamine, chondroitin, acetaminophen or celecoxib for the treatment of knee and/or hip osteoarthritis: a network meta-analysis

Clin Exp Rheumatol. 2018 Jul-Aug;36(4):595-602. Epub 2018 Jan 31.


Objectives: To compare the efficacies of oral glucosamine, chondroitin, the combination of glucosamine and chondroitin, acetaminophen and celecoxib on the treatment of knee and/or hip osteoarthritis.

Methods: We searched electronic databases including PubMed, Embase, and Cochrane Library and the reference lists of relevant articles published from inception to October 23, 2017. A Bayesian hierarchical random effects model was used to examine the overall effect size among mixed multiple interventions.

Results: We identified 61 randomised controlled trials of patients with knee and/or hip osteoarthritis. There was no obvious difference in the results between the traditional meta-analysis and the network meta-analysis. The network meta-analysis demonstrated that celecoxib was most likely the best option (SMD, -0.32 [95% CI, -0.38 to -0.25]) for pain, followed by the combination of glucosamine and chondroitin. For physical function, all interventions were significantly superior to oral placebo except for acetaminophen. In terms of stiffness, glucosamine (SMD, -0.36 [95% CI, -0.67 to -0.06]) and celecoxib (SMD, -0.29 [95% CI, -0.51 to -0.08]) were significantly better compared to placebo. In view of safety, compared to placebo only, celecoxib and acetaminophen presented significant differences.

Conclusions: Given the effectiveness of these non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and symptomatic slow-acting drugs, oral celecoxib is more effective than placebo on relieving pain and improving physical function, followed by the combination of glucosamine and chondroitin. Acetaminophen is likely the least efficacious intervention option. This information, accompanied by the tolerability and economic costs of the included treatments, would be conducive to making decisions for clinicians.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Meta-Analysis

MeSH terms

  • Acetaminophen / adverse effects
  • Acetaminophen / therapeutic use*
  • Celecoxib / adverse effects
  • Celecoxib / therapeutic use*
  • Chondroitin / administration & dosage
  • Chondroitin / adverse effects
  • Chondroitin / therapeutic use*
  • Drug Therapy, Combination
  • Glucosamine / administration & dosage
  • Glucosamine / adverse effects
  • Glucosamine / therapeutic use*
  • Humans
  • Osteoarthritis, Hip / drug therapy*
  • Osteoarthritis, Hip / physiopathology
  • Osteoarthritis, Knee / drug therapy*
  • Osteoarthritis, Knee / physiopathology


  • Acetaminophen
  • Chondroitin
  • Celecoxib
  • Glucosamine