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National Institutes of Health • National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine

NCCAM Clinical Digest

Dietary Supplements for Osteoarthritis

Mayo 2014
Illustratoin of a leg at the knee, the joining of the bones is red to imply pain.

Osteoarthritis, which affects an estimated 27 million Americans, is a leading cause of disability in older adults. Because the general population is aging and obesity, a major risk factor, is increasing in prevalence, the occurrence of osteoarthritis is on the rise. Clinical practice guidelines issued by the American College of Rheumatology recommend aerobic exercise and/or strength training, weight loss (if overweight), and a number of pharmacological and non-pharmacological modalities for treating OA of the knee, hip, or hand.

Many people with OA report trying various dietary supplements in an effort to relieve pain and improve function. However, there is no convincing evidence that any dietary supplement helps with OA symptoms or the underlying course of the disease. This issue of the digest summarizes current scientific evidence about several dietary supplements most often used by people with OA, including glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate, Dimethyl Sulfoxide (DMSO) and Methylsulfonylmethane (MSM), S-Adenosyl-L-methionine (SAMe), and herbal remedies.

Time to Talk Tips: 6 Things You Should Know About Dietary Supplements for Osteoarthritis

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NCCAM Clinical Digest is a service of the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, NIH, DHHS. NCCAM Clinical Digest, a monthly e-newsletter, offers evidence-based information on CAM, including scientific literature searches, summaries of NCCAM-funded research, fact sheets for patients, and more.

The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine is dedicated to exploring complementary and alternative healing practices in the context of rigorous science, training CAM researchers, and disseminating authoritative information to the public and professionals. For additional information, call NCCAM's Clearinghouse toll-free at 1-888-644-6226, or visit the NCCAM Web site at nccam.nih.gov. NCCAM is 1 of 27 institutes and centers at the National Institutes of Health, the Federal focal point for medical research in the United States.

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