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Effect of Glucosamine on Low Back Pain and Sciatica
Glucosamine, most commonly used in the form glucosamine sulfate, is a simple molecule derived from glucose, the principal sugar found in blood. In glucosamine, one oxygen atom in glucose is replaced by a nitrogen atom. The chemical term for this modified form of glucose is amino sugar.
Glucosamine is produced naturally in the body, where it is a key building block for making cartilage. When the low back pain is a result of worn out cartilage, it can be helpful to supplement glucosamine. Mostly studied for its use in the treatment of osteoarthritis, how glucosamine helps the treatment of low back pain in general or sciatica specifically can only be speculated.
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Research Evidence on Glucosamine
Glucosamine is widely accepted as a treatment for osteoarthritis, so its ability to help in the treatment of low back pain and/or sciatica has yet to be proven. Click here to read more about the studies that have been done on glucosamine and osteoarthritis.
Glucosamine appears to be a generally safe treatment and has not been associated with significant side effects. A few case reports and animal studies raised concerns that glucosamine might raise blood sugar in people with diabetes, but subsequent studies have tended to lay these concerns to rest. 1 Glucosamine does not appear to affect cholesterol levels either. 2 There is one case report of an allergic reaction to a glucosamine/chondroitin product, causing exacerbation of asthma . 3
- Shankar RR, Zhu JS, Baron AD. Glucosamine infusion in rats mimics the beta-cell dysfunction of non-insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus. Metabolism. 47(5):573-7.
- Ostergaard K, Hviid T, Hyllested-Winge JL. The effect of glucosamine sulphate on the blood levels of cholesterol or triglycerides—a clinical study. Ugeskr Laeger. 2007;169:407-410.
- Yu JG, Boies SM, Olefsky JM. The effect of oral glucosamine sulfate on insulin sensitivity in human subjects. Diabetes Care. 26(6):1941-2.
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