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J Back Musculoskelet Rehabil. 2012;25(4):275-84. doi: 10.3233/BMR-2012-0336.

Assessment of the effect of glucosamine sulfate and exercise on knee cartilage using magnetic resonance imaging in patients with knee osteoarthritis: a randomized controlled clinical trial.

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Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Medical Faculty, Ondokuz Mayis University, Samsun, Turkey.



Osteoarthritis (OA) is a chronic disease characterized by the focal deterioration and abrasion of articular cartilage. The goals of therapy are preserving normal joint function, relieving pain and improving quality of life (QOL). This study is performed to investigate whether glocosamine sulfate and exercise could both delay joint structure degradation evaluated with magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and improve symptoms in a short time period.


Thirty-nine women with the diagnosis of knee OA were enrolled in the study. Patients were randomized into two groups. Group I (n=20) received an exercise program, while group II (n=19) received glucosamin sulphate (1500 mg/day) in addition to the exercise therapy. Both groups were treated for 12 weeks. The patients were evaluated before and after the treatment regarding pain, disability, functional performance, muscle strength, QOL, depression and MRI findings (cartilage volume, medial and lateral cartilage thickness).


Both groups showed significant improvements in pain, disability, functional performance, QOL and depression with no statistically significant difference between the groups after the therapy. While there were significant improvements for all MRI parameters expect right knee cartilage volume and lateral cartilage thickness in two groups, statistically significant differences could not be demonstrated between the groups after the therapy.


We found no additional effect of glucosamine in delaying the radiological progression and relieving the symptoms of OA. We also demonstrated that exercise alone was adequate to prevent structural changes and cartilage loss of the knee joint as assessed by MRI.

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