Dr. Joseph Houpt, chief of Rheumatology and clinical investigator from Mount Sinai Hospital in Toronto, led the study that found a trend toward improved pain management among subjects treated with glucosamine hydrochloride. This over-the-counter medication is sold in Canada as Arthroid by Wampole Canada Inc.
``Until now, the information about glucosamine in North America has been unscientific and largely based on testimonials,'' said Dr. Houpt. ``When we began to consider studying glucosamine two and a half years ago, no one was willing to even give it a serious scientific look.'' Dr. Houpt decided to study glucosamine hydrochloride because many of his patients reported a benefit from taking it. Recently, one of the world's foremost biomedical research center's in the United States, the National Institutes of Health, began the process to identify researchers who would be interested in conducting a study on glucosamine as a treatment for osteoarthritis.
The study, by Dr. Houpt and his colleagues, was double-blind and placebo-controlled, and took place over a 10-week period, including a two week washout to ensure that other medications were out of the patients' systems. Participants were given either 500 mg of glucosamine hydrochloride or placebo three times daily in order to measure the effect of these agents on the pain of osteoarthritis. Patients were encouraged to use acetaminophen for pain as required. Forty-five patients received glucosamine hydrochloride, while 53 received a placebo. Study participants were selected due to osteoarthritis in their knee joint; their knees were examined four times over the 10-week period.
The greatest patient benefits were revealed in an analysis of their daily diaries. The patients were asked to note their level of pain compared to the previous day, and to the start of the trial, as well as how many tablets of acetaminophen they took. ``Those who took glucosamine hydrochloride appeared to have less painful days overall than the patients who took a placebo,'' said Dr. Houpt. ``In addition, a clinical examination of the affected knees suggested an improvement in glucosamine hydrochloride takers, noted over the last four weeks of the study.''
In the Canadian study, the knee joint was selected because it is often plagued by osteoarthritis. Osteoarthritis leads to pain, stiffness, and sometimes the inability to use or move a joint because a breakdown occurs in the cartilage that lines and protects it. The disease typically affects older adults overage 65; in Canada, approximately 2.7 million people suffer with osteoarthritis. In Dr. Houpt's study, subjects ranged from age 40 to 85, with an average age of 62.
In terms of quantified results, 49 per cent of subjects treated with glucosamine hydrochloride felt that they had improved.
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