Chondroitin sulphate is a safe and effective treatment for people with osteoarthritis, according by the Collaboration Cochrane study, which has reviewed, evaluated and synthesized the different studies. The result is a scientific endorsement of the use of chondroitin sulphate for the osteoarthritis treatment.
Any health professional knows how difficult it is to predict whether a treatment is appropriate for a particular person with a particular disease. It often depends on the person, because a treatment that relieves one patient can harm another; it depends on whether the treatment can have side effects; how effective it is; whether immediate or long-term effectiveness is sought; whether the patient has other diseases as well. . . And it depends, of course, on how the studies that have evaluated the treatment have been done.
With so many variables involved, it is not surprising that studies sometimes come up with contradictory results and that doctors sometimes have different criteria on how to address the same problem. To reduce confusion, the Cochrane Collaboration rigorously and systematically reviews published studies on health issues. It is a non profit organisation in which more than 10,000 health professionals from around 100 countries participate on a voluntary basis. The results of the reviews, which serve as a guide for doctors around the world, are published in the Cochrane Library.
In a report published on 28 January in the Cochrane Library, studies on chondroitin for the treatment of osteoarthritis have been reviewed. Data from 43 clinical trials involving 9,110 patients have been analysed, approximately half of whom received chondroitin and the other half placebo.
To ensure the validity of the results, aleatory clinical trials have been included. Archie Cochrane, the British epidemiologist who started the Cochrane Collaboration, argued that aleatory clinical trials are essential to evaluate the efficacy and safety of medical treatments. They are the ones that ensure that the group of patients are comparable and that the main difference between them is the treatment received.
Chondroitin sulfate is a complex molecule found in the cartilage of the human body. It is also found, although in smaller quantities, in other tissues such as bones, corneas, skin and artery walls. The degradation of cartilage that occurs in cases of osteoarthritis is accompanied by a loss of chondroitin sulphate in the joints.
That’s why, it’s thought that treatment with chondroitin sulfate can help to maintain cartilage integrity.If this hypothesis is correct, chondroitin sulphate could slow down the progression of osteoarthritis and also to repair the carilage in some patients. Collaboration Cochrane results reinforce this hypothesis.
After analysing the data from 43 clinical trials, chondroitin sulphate has been shown to be more effective than placebo in relieving pain in osteoarthritis joints. When, after six months of treatment, patients are asked to rate the pain they experience from 0 to 100, those who have been treated with placebo give an average score of 28; among those who have received chondroitin, the score drops to 18.
Analysis of a quality of life indicator (the Laquesne index, which takes into account both pain and loss of mobility) confirms that chondroitin sulphate offers better results than placebo.
X-rays of the affected joints provide a third positive result: chondroitin sulphate stops the narrowing of the intra articular space. This result suggests that chondroitin sulfate not only relieves the symptoms of osteoarthritis, but possibly also slows the progression of the disease.
The last relevant result is that the side effects of the treatment are not superior to those of the placebo, which certifies that chondroitin sulfate treatment is safe.
“The benefits are small to moderate, but clinically significant,” the review authors conclude.
An important detail is that chondroitin sulphate is not regulated as a drug but as a dietary supplement. That’s why, we can find different products of different qualities in the market. The Cochrane Collaboration has reviewed studies done with different chondroitin supplements. It the results are good for a group of products of heterogeneous quality, it can be expected that they will be even better for pharmacological grade chondroitin sulphate that can be found is spanish pharmacies.
Even if it is regulated as a dietary supplement and can be purchased without a prescription, the authors of the Cochrane Collaboration recommend that patients consult with their doctors about how to take chondroitin sulfate. Your doctor will help you to choose de best treatment, and if you need to combine it with another product that enhances the effectiveness of chondroitin sulfate as the glucosamine.
The authors from Cochrane Collaboration advice is not a substitute, it is a complement for people with osteoarthritis. To get the maximum benefit from chondroitin sulfate, it’s better to follow the doctor instructions to each patient about others therapies, such as moderate physical activity, loss weight and strengthen the muscles that protect damaged joints.
Author: Josep Corbella (Scientific journalist of La Vanguardia)