A randomized, controlled trial has found that a six-month oral course of glucosamine was not significantly more effective than placebo in reducing pain-related disability among people with chronic low-back pain and degenerative lumbar osteoarthritis.

In the double-blind study, 125 people aged 25 years and older with the two conditions were given 1,500 mg of oral glucosamine for six months while 125 similar patients received placebo. At baseline, the Roland Morris Disability Questionnaire (RMDQ) mean scores were 9.2 for the glucosamine group and 9.7 for the placebo-takers. At treatment’s end, the mean RMDQ score was 5.0 for each group, and at the one-year mark, 4.8 for the glucosamine group and 5.5 for the placebo group. The investigators stated that “it seems unwise to recommend glucosamine to all patients with chronic [low-back pain] and degenerative lumbar [osteoarthritis]” (JAMA. 2010;304:45-52).