Oral glucosamine sulphate not superior to placebo in treating osteoarthritis in temporomandibular joint

shutterstock_48486751 stomatologist shows x-ray

Osteoarthritis (OA)  of the temporomandibular joint is found in about 5-16% of those referred with temporomandibular disorders (TMD).  The aim of this study was to evaluate the effect of oral glucosamine sulphate, compared with placebo, on pain and function in patients diagnosed with osteoarthritis in the temporomandibular joints.

Patients with the research diagnostic criteria for temporomandibular disorder for TMJ osteoarthritis, confirmed on radiographic  were randomized to the daily intake of 1,200 mg glucosamine sulphate ( n=30) or identical placebo capsules( n=29)  in this double-blind trial.  Pain on visual and verbal rating scales and opening capacity were the main outcome measures. These were measured at baseline and at 6 weeks.

They found

  • Both groups were similar at baseline and signs and symptoms improved in both groups over time with no differences between the groups.
  • 8 patients in the glucosamine group and 2 in the placebo group stopped the medication prematurely.
  • Gastrointestinal side effects were reported by a total of 10 and 3 patients, respectively

They concluded

Oral glucosamine sulphate was not superior to placebo in reducing signs and symptoms of osteoarthritis in the TMJs in this short-term trial.

Cahlin BJ, Dahlström L. No effect of glucosamine sulfate on osteoarthritis in the temporomandibular joints-a randomized, controlled, short-term study. Oral Surg Oral Med Oral Pathol Oral Radiol Endod. 2011 Oct 14. [Epub ahead of print] PubMed PMID: 22001199.

Comment :- This is a single short-term study and compliance appears to have been a concern in both groups with the placebo group using rescue medication.  A recent Cochrane review ( Towheed T et al 2009)  concluded

Pooled results from studies using a non-Rotta preparation or adequate allocation concealment failed to show benefit in pain and WOMAC function while those studies evaluating the Rotta preparation showed that glucosamine was superior to placebo in the treatment of pain and functional impairment resulting from symptomatic OA.

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