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Glucosamine and chondroitin have been the stepchildren of modern medicine for many years. While their use has skyrocketed due to a mass of supplements on the market, the average family doctor was much more likely to prescribe pharmaceutical concoctions such as Celebrex. In a study presented in November 2015 at a meeting of the American College of Rheumatology, chondroitin dramatically beat Celebrex in a head-to-head trial.

Chondroitin is a component of cartilage. The theory for taking it always has been simple—to provide the body with the building blocks of cartilage, and, just maybe, this would preserve or build cartilage. While the reality of how chondroitin works is a lot more complex, small studies using MRI have shown that chondoitin preserves cartilage. When given along with its cousin glucosamine, chondroitin is a potent anti-inflammatory. The two together even have been shown to lower cardiac risk factors.

The study presented to the American College of Rheumatology specifically looks at how Celebrex and chondroitin were able to impact the progressive loss of cartilage in just under 200 arthritis patients. One group took 200 mg of Celebrex daily while the other took 1,200 mg of chondroitin a day. Both groups were followed for two years. MRIs were tracked for loss of cartilage, the status of bone-marrow lesions, and to measure swelling in the lining of the joint (synovial membrane). At both one and two years, there was less whole-knee cartilage loss in the chondroitin group as well as less synovial inflammation. Both groups did about the same in regard to reducing pain and increasing function.

Celebrex previously has been shown to have cardiac sudden-death side effects as well as other serious complications associated with its use. Despite being one of the drugs in the family of NSAID drugs removed from the market due to heart side effects, Celebrex presumably was left on the market to give physicians an option for treating arthritis. It was believed that no other good options existed for treatment of arthritis. The time now may have come to remove Celebrex from the market. In the meantime, if you have arthritis and have been put on Celebrex, talk to your doctor about taking chondroitin instead.


“Chondroitin Better Than Celebrex In New Study!” first appeared as a post on the Regenexx blog.

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