For Immediate Release
For Golfers With Arthritis, Glucosamine May Hasten Return to the Green:
Dr. Kevin Plancher discusses the role of glucosamine & chondroitin for active Boomers
NY, NY and Greenwich, CT, February 2006 â€“ Golf is thought to be a gentleman’s (or gentlewoman’s) game, refined and stress-free. Yet, in reality, golf puts a strain on virtually every major joint in the body. The shoulder, elbow, hip, knee and back are all ‘power points’ in every golf swing, and repeating those swings dozens of times each week can lead to overuse injuries — a leading precursor to arthritis for the active Baby Boomers who enjoy the game.
“Like tennis and other court sports, playing golf requires total-body involvement,” confirms Kevin Plancher, M.D., a leading NY-area orthopaedist, sports medicine expert and official orthopaedic surgeon of the U.S. Ski and Snowboard teams and a former event physician for the Buick Classic. “Pain in any of these key joints is enough to sideline even the most enthusiastic golfer, leading the sports medicine community to search for new and effective ways to treat that discomfort and restore patients’ ability to get active — which ultimately is the key to longevity and good health.” In addition to pharmaceuticals, rest, gentle activity, physical therapy and surgery, Dr. Plancher notes that a natural compound of glucosamine and chondroitin has shown promise for patients in relieving moderate to severe arthritis pain.
Rebuilding cartilage for pain relief
“Glucosamine and chondroitin are two natural compounds that researchers believe may actually help to rebuild cartilage that is deteriorating in arthritic joints,” Dr. Plancher explains. “But for years, any evidence that these nutritional supplements may help active Baby Boomers reduce pain from overuse and arthritis has been met with skepticism,” he adds. However, the results of a new long-term study conducted by the National Institutes of Health have confirmed that the compounds can effectively control arthritis pain and possibly return scores of golfers to the green.
In the NIH study of nearly 1,200 patients with osteoarthritis of the knee, a combination of glucosamine and chondroitin provided relief for nearly 80% of a subgroup in the study whose pain was rated moderate to severe. “The supplement was actually rated higher among that group of patients in the study than one of the leading pharmaceuticals on the market for arthritis pain [Celebrex(R)], which was effective for 69% of the patients,” Dr. Plancher notes.
There were no significant side effects reported in the study, which ran for approximately three years — an adequate time period to allow the glucosamine and chondroitin to build in the subjects’ systems. “Because the mode of action of these compounds is thought to be the rebuilding of that cushioning layer of cartilage, it often takes weeks before patients will feel the effects,” Dr. Plancher says. “But since these supplements can usually be taken with over-the-counter pain relievers and even prescription medications, many patients can manage their current pain levels with those medications over the short term as they take the glucosamine and chondroitin for what they hope will be long term relief.”
How much? How often? Until when?
Since nutritional supplements are not regulated by the Food & Drug Administration, Dr. Plancher encourages patients to consult their doctors before taking any supplement. “There are some people, including patients taking certain medications or with certain chronic conditions, who should not take glucosamine and chondroitin,” Dr. Plancher confirms.
What’s more, since supplements escape government scrutiny, there are no guarantees about the quality or the amount of the compound’s active ingredients in each bottle. “For those who are good candidates for the supplements, your physician can recommend a reputable brand and the right dosage, and then monitor your progress over a three-month period,” Dr. Plancher explains. “This is enough time for the glucosamine and chondroitin to build in the system and generate positive effects,” Dr. Plancher says. “At that time, your doctor may step back your dose or approve a switch to a different brand,” he adds.
“Of the 26 million Americans who play golf, a significant percentage of them are active Baby Boomers who might scale back or discontinue this healthy and enjoyable pastime when faced with the pain of arthritis,” Dr. Plancher concludes. “Glucosamine and chondroitin supplementation may be an effective part of an overall treatment plan that enables golf enthusiasts to manage their arthritis and get back on the green.” When it doesnâ€™t work minimally invasive surgery can fix and arthritic knee, torn rotator cuff in the shoulder or non-working elbow.