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Symptoms of Osteoarthritis

Symptoms of osteoarthritis (OA) tend to reflect mobility, joint pain and stiffness, as well as quality of life in persons with OA. Supplements that benefit these symptoms according to self-reported rating scales are prophylactic.

Research analysis led by Kamal Patel.
All content reviewed by the Examine.com Team. Published: Jul 5, 2013
Last Updated:

Human Effect Matrix

The Human Effect Matrix looks at human studies (it excludes animal and in vitro studies) to tell you what supplements affect symptoms of osteoarthritis
Grade Level of Evidence
Robust research conducted with repeated double-blind clinical trials
Multiple studies where at least two are double-blind and placebo controlled
Single double-blind study or multiple cohort studies
Uncontrolled or observational studies only
Level of Evidence
? The amount of high quality evidence. The more evidence, the more we can trust the results.
Outcome Magnitude of effect
? The direction and size of the supplement's impact on each outcome. Some supplements can have an increasing effect, others have a decreasing effect, and others have no effect.
Consistency of research results
? Scientific research does not always agree. HIGH or VERY HIGH means that most of the scientific research agrees.
grade-a Minor Very High See all 19 studies
There appears to be a small decrease in osteoarthritis symptoms associated with glucosamine (as sulfate, not hydrochloride) which is somewhat unreliable but consistently outperforms placebo on meta-analyses. The magnitude of reduction, however, is somewhat minor but still comparable to acetominophen
grade-b Notable Very High See all 4 studies
The reduction observed with Boswellia serrata for pain and other symptoms of osteoarthritis are more profound than other supplements including that of glucosamine (reference), but study robustness is limited by industry influence.
grade-b Notable Very High See all 10 studies
Supplementation with curcumin resulted in a notable, consistent reduction in osteoarthritis symptoms across many studies. Of the osteoarthritis symptoms, it seems to be most effective for pain and physical function, while it's less clear if it reduces stiffness. Caution should be taken due to many of the studies not being high quality.
grade-b Notable Very High See all 4 studies
Decreases in symptoms of osteroarthritis appear to be reduced to similar levels with SAMe as with pharmaceuticals like Naproxen, although SAMe requires a longer period of time for efficacy to occur
grade-b Minor High See all 3 studies
There may be a small reducing effect, but it does not appear to be greater than the active control of Ibuprofen
grade-b Minor Very High See all 3 studies
There appears to be benefit to osteoarthritis symptoms with supplementation of rose hip relative to placebo, with benefits more apparent over longer periods of supplementation.
grade-c Notable Very High See 2 studies
The preliminary evidence at this point in time (promising and independent, but limited) support the usage of pycnogenol in reducing all symptoms of osteoarthritis, reaching up to a halving of symptoms but requiring 90 days for effects to occur
grade-c Minor - See study
Functionality seems to improve, although not to a remarkable degree.
grade-c Minor - See study
A decrease in symptoms of osteoarthritis has been noted and seems to be somewhat comparable in potency to glucosamine sulfate
grade-c Minor Very High See 2 studies
Appears to reduce pain symptoms and improve functionality associated with osteoarthritis, with one study suggesting comparable efficacy to glucosamine sulfate
grade-c - - See study
No significant influence on symptoms of osteoarthritis when tested
grade-c - - See study
No significant interaction between supplemental Feverfew and osteoarthritic symptoms
grade-c - - See all 4 studies
Highly difficult to assess the efficacy of stinging nettle on osteoarthritic symptoms due to a wide degree of variance in study methodology
grade-c - - See 2 studies
grade-c - - See study
grade-d Notable - See study
In one study in people with knee joint pain, both 250 and 500 mg of a standardized extract (10% withanolide glycosides minimum) seemed to improve pain, physical function, stiffness, and swelling notably, with the 500 mg dose being more effective. Much more research is needed.
grade-d Minor - See study
Possible reductions in the symptoms associated with osteoarthritis
grade-d Minor Very High See all 3 studies
Symptoms of osteoarthritis appear to be reduced following ingestion of devil's claw, but insufficient robust evidence exists
grade-d - - See study
No significant influence on the symptoms of osteoarthritis