The widely used dietary supplement to treat back and arthritis pain glucosamine may not be effective, according to a new study.

The study conducted by researchers at the Oslo University Hospital in Norway tested the efficacy of the diet supplement, which has been disputed earlier, in 250 patients.

Each participant, suffering from chronic lower back pain from arthritis, was given 1,500 milligrams of glucosamine, or a placebo, every day for six months.

Analysis of the data provided by the six-month study revealed no significant difference in the quantum of pain between the patients who were treated with glucosamine and the placebo.

The researchers, however, pointed out that other studies have produced some evidence that glucosamine can help alleviate arthritis pain in other parts of the body, such as the knees and hips, in their study reported in a recent issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Glucosamine is a compound found naturally in the body, made from glucose and the amino acid glutamine. Glucosamine is needed to produce glycosaminoglycan, a molecule used in the formation and repair of cartilage and other body tissues. Production of glucosamine slows with age.

Glucosamine supplements are manufactured from chitin, a substance found in the shells of shrimp, crab, lobster, and other sea creatures. Glucosamine is also used in sports drinks and in cosmetics.

It is often combined with chondroitin sulfate, a molecule naturally present in cartilage. Chondroitin gives cartilage elasticity and is believed to prevent the destruction of cartilage by enzymes. Glucosamine supplements are widely used for osteoarthritis, particularly osteoarthritis of the knee.