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Treatment of osteoarthritis

Q: I have been advised Glucosamine sulfate 500 mg + Methyl sulfonil methane 500 mg to treat Osteoarthritis from which I have been suffering for the past three years. I have been having the above medication for the past 6 months but if I stop the tablets, the pain returns after a week or so. How long do I have to take this medication to rid myself of the pain. Also, what are the side effects of this medicine?

A:Till today there is only 1 controlled trial of glucosamine (+ chondroitin) in osteoarthritis. This trial showed just a minimal effect that too, only after 3 years of continuous treatment. My own view is that osteoarthritis should be managed with weight reduction, correct (re-learning) and proper use of joints (especially knees) and change our daily living habits to prevent further damage to the knees (and other joints). This programme should be vigorously supplemented with non-weight bearing isometric and isotonic exercises of the muscles of the affected joints (e.g. quadriceps for knee osteoarthritis). Therapy in swimming pool (Pool therapy) is probably the best way to improve the affected joints as it also helps in reducing the weight. Most of these details are available on the NDTVs health-related web site on arthritis.

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