The objective of this study was to evaluate the symptomatic effects of glucosamine sulphate (GS) in comparison to the exercise therapy, in addition to effects on Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) findings of cartilage loss in patients with knee osteoarthritis (OA). Seventy patients with a diagnosis of knee OA were separated at random into two groups. First group of patients (n=40) were treated with 1500 mg/day oral glucosamine sulphate and the second group (n=30) performed a home exercise program for a period of 6 months. Compared with baseline, significant improvements were seen in the visual analogue scale pain scores and the Western Ontario and McMaster Universities osteoarthritis index and 20-min walking time in both groups (p< 0.001); there weren't any significant differences between the two treatment groups. Upon the evaluation of joint cartilage thickness by MRI, an improvement was evident in only in the area of medial femoral condyle of patients who had performed a home exercise program (p< 0.05).
The results of the present study indicate that both oral GS treatment and exercise therapy are efficient in the symptomatic treatment of patients with knee OA. However, exercise therapy found to have a better chondroprotective effect than oral GS treatment in this patient population.