One in two adults will eventually develop knee pain from osteoarthritis.
In their search for relief, many people try dietary supplements that contain glucosamine and chondroitin. But Consumer Reports’ medical adviser, Dr. Orly Avitzur, says there’s very little medical evidence that those two supplements ease joint pain. And glucosamine and chondroitin can pose risks that include an increase in blood sugar levels and a greater chance of bleeding when taken with blood thinners like warfarin. They can also worsen high blood pressure and may trigger abnormal heart rhythms.
In response to Consumer Reports’ concerns about glucosamine and chondroitin, a trade group for the supplement industry, the Council for Responsible Nutrition, had this response: “For most people, these supplements help without safety concerns … However, people should be dialoguing with their doctor about their supplement use.”
Consumer Reports and the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons have released a Choosing Wisely report that encourages people with knee pain to talk with their doctor, who may suggest low-impact activities like walking or swimming combined with exercises to stretch and strengthen the muscles around the joints.
It’s likely you’ll still need something for pain flare-ups. Choosing Wisely recommends over-the-counter nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen or naproxen.
And if you’re still having pain, Consumer Reports recommends seeing an orthopedist, who can evaluate the actual damage to your joints.
Consumer Reports has more advice on easing all kinds of pain on its website.
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