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Arthritis and Rheumatism

Vitamins For Osteoarthritis

03/12/2009

Question:

My 51 year old mother is an Osteoarthritis patient. It has become so bad for the last couple of months that she is literally leaning forward when she has to walk. It is very painful too. This is very upseting for our whole family as she was a very active and energetic women once. My question is are there any specific tablet (vitamin) that are good for osteoarthritis patients? Can you suggest some vitamin tablets that I can buy for her that can help stop this condition getting more severe?

Answer:

To date, there is no medication or supplement that has definitively demonstrated an ability to slow the progression of osteoarthritis (OA) in humans. However, there are several things worth mentioning pertaining to your post.

Firstly, several small studies have demonstrated that glucosamine sulfate plus chondroitin sulfate dietary supplement have reduced pain in mild-to-moderate OA of the hip or knees. Unfortunately, this is offset by the GAIT study which demonstrated no pain reduction or slowing of disease in knee OA. The GAIT study was a large-scale National Institutes of Health sponsored study conducted in the United States comparing glucosamine + chondroitin to the effects of placebo. In my opinion, if one were to try glucosamine sulfate and chondroitin sulfate, if there was no reduction of OA pain within 2 - 3 months, then I would suggest stopping the supplement.

Secondly, a forward-leaning posture may be indicative of a compression fracture of a backbone from osteoporosis (decreased bone strength predisposing to fractures). Osteoporotic vertebral compression fractures do not necessarily cause pain. It may be worthwhile having an evaluation to make sure a fracture does not exist. If one does, then pharmacologic treatment for osteoporosis is indicated.

Furthermore, vitamin D supplementation would also be indicated.

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Response by:

Raymond  Hong, MD, MBA, FACR Raymond Hong, MD, MBA, FACR
Formerly, Assistant Professor of Medicine
School of Medicine
Case Western Reserve University