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19-09-2011 | General practice | Article

Chondroitin effective for hand OA


Arthritis Rheum 2011; Advance online publication

Chondroitin supplements improve both symptoms and function in people with osteoarthritis (OA) of the hand, a randomized controlled trial has found.

The study showed that patients who took chondroitin sulphate at a dose of 800 mg daily for 6 months showed significantly greater improvements in hand pain, hand function and duration of morning stiffness than did patients who took placebo.

"Chondroitin sulphate is effective and safe in the treatment of patients with hand OA and provides an interesting therapeutic alternative for the management of this frequent condition," write Dr Cem Gabay, rheumatologist at the University Hospitals of Geneva, and fellow authors in Arthritis and Rheumatism.

The investigator-initiated trial, known as the "Finger osteoArthritis Chondroitin Treatment Study" (FACTS), enrolled 162 people with symptomatic, radiographic hand OA. They were randomly assigned to take either Condrosulf, a prescription drug containing highly purified chondroitins 4- and 6- sulphate of fish origin, or matching placebo.

Compared with baseline, global hand pain (measured on a Visual Analogue Scale) at 6 months had fallen by 20.0 mm in chondroitin-treated patients versus 11.3 mm in placebo patients, a highly significant difference.

Furthermore, hand function (measured using the Functional Index for Hand OA score) improved by 2.9 points in the chondroitin group versus just 0.7 points with placebo.

Chondroitin-treated patients also showed significantly greater improvements in the duration of morning stiffness and in global impressions of treatment efficacy. Grip strength, paracetomol use and safety endpoints did not differ between the groups.

GP News is an independent clinical news service provided by Springer Healthcare Limited. © Springer Healthcare Ltd; 2011

By Joanna Lyford