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Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Efficacy of a progressive walking program and glucosamine sulphate supplementation on osteoarthritic symptoms of the hip and knee: a feasibility trial

Norman TM Ng1, Kristiann C Heesch12* and Wendy J Brown1

Author Affiliations

1 The University of Queensland, School of Human Movement Studies, Blair Drive, St Lucia Campus, Brisbane, Queensland 4072, Australia

2 Queensland University of Technology, School of Public Health, Victoria Park Road, Kelvin Grove, Brisbane, Queensland 4059, Australia

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Arthritis Research & Therapy 2010, 12:R25  doi:10.1186/ar2932

Published: 12 February 2010

Abstract

Introduction

Management of osteoarthritis (OA) includes the use of non-pharmacological and pharmacological therapies. Although walking is commonly recommended for reducing pain and increasing physical function in people with OA, glucosamine sulphate has also been used to alleviate pain and slow the progression of OA. This study evaluated the effects of a progressive walking program and glucosamine sulphate intake on OA symptoms and physical activity participation in people with mild to moderate hip or knee OA.

Methods

Thirty-six low active participants (aged 42 to 73 years) were provided with 1500 mg glucosamine sulphate per day for 6 weeks, after which they began a 12-week progressive walking program, while continuing to take glucosamine. They were randomized to walk 3 or 5 days per week and given a pedometer to monitor step counts. For both groups, step level of walking was gradually increased to 3000 steps/day during the first 6 weeks of walking, and to 6000 steps/day for the next 6 weeks. Primary outcomes included physical activity levels, physical function (self-paced step test), and the WOMAC Osteoarthritis Index for pain, stiffness and physical function. Assessments were conducted at baseline and at 6-, 12-, 18-, and 24-week follow-ups. The Mann Whitney Test was used to examine differences in outcome measures between groups at each assessment, and the Wilcoxon Signed Ranks Test was used to examine differences in outcome measures between assessments.

Results

During the first 6 weeks of the study (glucosamine supplementation only), physical activity levels, physical function, and total WOMAC scores improved (P < 0.05). Between the start of the walking program (Week 6) and the final follow-up (Week 24), further improvements were seen in these outcomes (P < 0.05) although most improvements were seen between Weeks 6 and 12. No significant differences were found between walking groups.

Conclusions

In people with hip or knee OA, walking a minimum of 3000 steps (~30 minutes), at least 3 days/week, in combination with glucosamine sulphate, may reduce OA symptoms. A more robust study with a larger sample is needed to support these preliminary findings.

Trial Registration

Australian Clinical Trials Registry ACTRN012607000159459.