Supplements in general are a waste of time and money. However, glucosamine (glucosamine chondroitin) is a supplement that has been researched in improving joint symptoms associated with osteoarthritis. The Cochrane Database cites many high quality studies that support its effectiveness. Specifically, taking 1500 mg of glucosamine per day for 6 weeks has been shown to have a 28% improvement in pain, a 21% improvement in function, pain improvement similar to taking acetaminophen and a prevention of joint space narrowing in women after 3 year follow up. Even better, the side effects are minimal, which include itching and gastrointestinal upset. However, other studies aren’t showing such strong support. What about glucosamine for tendonitis?
After thorough research, I came across a study published in November 2010 in the journal Connective Tissue Research about glucosamine for tendonitis. In this study, 20 rabbits received a tenotomy of the flexor digitorum superficialis tendon, which was then surgically repaired. Rabbits were given 20 days of glucosamine supplementation following the surgical repair. The rabbits were euthanized 84 days after injury and the tendons were analyzed. Oryan et al. found that the rabbits who were supplemented with glucosamine had more pronouned healing than those given placebo. Although this small animal study evaluating the effects of glucosamine for tendonitis cannot be generalized to humans, it clearly opens up the door for more research on the topic. Hopefully, large scale studies on the effects of glucosamine for tendonitis in humans are in progress.
Can taking glucosamine for tendonitis hurt?
Because each individual case is different, it is best to ask your doctor if you are considering taking glucosamine for tendonitis, or any other musculoskeletal pathology. Immediately discontinue taking glucosamine for tendonitis if you experience side effects.
Towheed TE , Anastassiades TP , Shea B , Houpt J , Welch V , Hochberg MC . Glucosamine therapy for treating osteoarthritis . Cochrane Database Syst Rev . 2001;(1):CD002946.
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