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Abstract

Objective

To evaluate the symptomatic effects of highly purified chondroitin 4 and chondroitin 6 sulfate (CS) therapy in patients with osteoarthritis (OA) of the hand.

Methods

This investigator-initiated, single-center, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial included 162 symptomatic patients with radiographic evidence of hand OA (American College of Rheumatology criteria). Inclusion criteria included patient's assessment of global spontaneous hand pain of at least 40 mm on a 0–100-mm visual analog scale (VAS) and functional impairment of at least 6 (0–30 scale) on the Functional Index for Hand OA (FIHOA) in the most symptomatic hand. Patients received either 800 mg of CS (n = 80 patients) or placebo (n = 82 patients) once daily for 6 months and were analyzed in an intent-to-treat approach. The two primary outcomes were the change in the patient's assessment of global spontaneous hand pain and in hand function (by FIHOA score) from baseline to month 6. Secondary outcomes were improvement in grip strength, duration of morning stiffness, acetaminophen consumption, and the investigator's global impression of treatment efficacy.

Results

There was a significantly more pronounced decrease in the patient's global assessment of hand pain in the CS group than in the placebo group (difference VAS scores −8.7 mm; P = 0.016). Hand function improved significantly more in the CS group than in the placebo group (difference in FIHOA scores −2.14; P = 0.008). There was a statistically significant between-group difference in favor of CS for the duration of morning stiffness and for the investigator's global impression of treatment efficacy. Changes in grip strength, acetaminophen consumption, and safety end points were not significantly different between the two groups.

Conclusion

This study demonstrates that CS improves hand pain and function in patients with symptomatic OA of the hand and shows a good safety profile.