Montreal, Quebec – According to new research coming out of the American College of Rheumatology Annual Meeting, chondroitin sulfate was more effective in reducing long-term progression of knee osteoarthritis (OA) than celecoxib, a drug commonly accepted as the best treatment in the disease.

Knee OA, is a condition in which the cartilage (cushioning between joints) wears away over time. When cartilage wears away, the bones of joints rub closely against one another resulting in swelling, stiffness and joint pain.

During the study, 194 patients with knee OA and inflammation of the synovial membrane in the knee were evaluated by Jean-Pierre Pelletier; professor of medicine, University of Montreal; director, Rheumatic Disease Unit, Department of Medicine, University of Montreal School of Medicine; head, Arthritis Division, University of Montreal Hospital Centre (CHUM); head, Chair in Osteoarthritis of the University of Montreal; and director, Osteoarthritis Research Unit, University of Montreal Hospital Research Centre (CRCHUM) and his team. The participants were followed for two years and divided into two groups, of which one group took 1,200 mg of pharmacological prepared chondroitin daily, while the other took 200 mg of celecoxib daily.

Over the course of the study, participants were evaluated with MRIs to detect any cartilage loss, changes in bone marrow lesions, thickening of the synovial membrane in the knee, and swelling or fluid in the knee.

While both groups had similar success in lowering swelling and fluid in the knee, as well as a decrease in the use of the pain reliever acetaminophen, participants on chondroitin had a better reduction of cartilage loss in the whole knee and some also had a decrease in synovial membrane thickness.

Dr. Pelletier concluded the study, by noting that pharmaceutical-grade chondroitin was used and results may not be comparable for all chondroitin products such as food supplements.

Published on WholeFoods Magazine February 2016, Online 12/4/2015