EDMONTON, CANADA. Several clinical trials have shown that glucosamine sulfate (GLS) is effective in the treatment of osteoarthritis of the knee. Now researchers at the University of Alberta report that GLS is also effective in the treatment of osteoarthritis (OA) of the temporomandibular joint (the joint connecting the lower jawbone to the skull [cranium]). Temporomandibular joint disease (TMJ) affects young women in their 20s and 30s and it is estimated that OA of the TMJ affects about 10 per cent of all patients seeking treatment for TMJ. The main characteristic of the disease is severe pain when chewing, yawning, talking, laughing or otherwise opening the mouth. TMJ and OA of the TMJ are usually treated with NSAIDs such as ibuprofen.
The Alberta study involved 40 women and 5 men with an average age of 37.5 years. The participants were
randomized to receive either 500 mg of GLS three times a day or 400 mg of ibuprofen three times a day for
the 90-day study period. The researchers conclude that GLS is at least as effective as ibuprofen in reducing
pain and improving functioning. They emphasize that GLS has no serious side effects whereas ibuprofen
definitely has. It is estimated that 14.6 to 43.9 per cent of patients with OA treated with NSAIDs develop
gastric ulcers after six months of therapy. The researchers also noted that the beneficial effects of GLS
persisted beyond the 90-day treatment period whereas those of ibuprofen did not. They take this to mean
that GLS actually has a healing effect while ibuprofen does not. They estimate that about 50 per cent of
patients on GLS will experience at least a 50 per cent reduction in pain and 70 per cent of patients at least a
39 per cent reduction in pain. NOTE: This study was partially funded by Jamieson and Apotex Inc.,
manufacturers of GLS and ibuprofen respectively.