I am looking for information about the use of glucosamine and chondroitin for treatment of back pain and disc degeneration. A paper published in Military Medicine in 1999 reported some beneficial effects, but newer papers (references needed) do not support these conclusions.

How do I search for more recent papers that cite this older paper, to decide what the current medical consensus is?

Glucosamine trial (negative results):


Chondroitin Sulfate trial (negative results):


Glucosamine and Chondroitin Sulfate(good results but not conclusive)



  • 1
    $\begingroup$ It might be beneficial to also link to the more recent studies that contradict the older one. $\endgroup$
    – Galen
    May 9 at 21:35
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Welcome to SE Biology. Please finish reading the Tour. I appreciate that your first language is English, but I think you should reconsider the use of the word "debunk. Do you want to know whether anyone has published a critical analysis of the paper showing that it is flawed — that is what I would take "debunk" to mean — or do you want to know what the current scientific/medical consensus is? People can disregard the conclusions of a paper without proving it flawed. I've cleaned up your presentation a bit. $\endgroup$
    – David
    May 9 at 23:00
  • $\begingroup$ Use the word “review” in the search terms. A review article will have references to all the useful papers. $\endgroup$ May 10 at 3:55
  • $\begingroup$ @AgnesianOperator you are right sorry I've added the sources of the conflict, Thank you $\endgroup$
    – RodParedes
    May 10 at 15:03
  • $\begingroup$ @David Thank you David for the correction, it is a way more properly to ask, but what I would like to know, if there is a study that take that as a reference (because it is one of the oldest of this topic) and claims like ("We have followed the methods of this papers in a large trial but the outcome its different") $\endgroup$
    – RodParedes
    May 10 at 15:07

3 Answers 3


Papers provide evidence for or against various hypotheses, but no one paper is ever a definitive statement on an issue. It is expected that different trials will have different outcomes, both due to differences in the studies themselves (different inclusion/exclusion criteria, different study population, different dose/procedure, etc) and random statistical variation.

It's also very important to recognize that most studies are designed to test whether there is sufficient evidence to reject a null hypothesis of no effect. Failure to reject that null hypothesis does not mean that there is no effect, it means that the results aren't different enough from what you'd expect to see if there was no effect. It may be that there is a smaller effect than the study was powered to detect. Also, consider that a properly powered study generally has a true-positive detection rate of somewhere between 80 and 90%; that means, 10-20% of the time when there's a real effect of the expected size, the study won't be able to conclude there is a significant difference.

So, when there are multiple studies with different results, how do we decide what is "right"? Well, scientific consensus is built over many studies. In clinical research, the best evidence is when you have not only clinical evidence of an effect, but also an understood biological mechanism. At just the clinical level, though, studies can be combined through techniques of meta-analysis. Meta-analysis combines results from multiple studies, weights them by the size/quality of the study, and makes a comprehensive quantitative estimate from the covered literature. If you want to look for scientific consensus on something, you often want to look for recent meta analyses of that topic. In the medical field, there are also often consensus papers written on particular topics. Here's an example:

Priori, S. G., Wilde, A. A., Horie, M., Cho, Y., Behr, E. R., Berul, C., ... & Tracy, C. (2013). HRS/EHRA/APHRS expert consensus statement on the diagnosis and management of patients with inherited primary arrhythmia syndromes: document endorsed by HRS, EHRA, and APHRS in May 2013 and by ACCF, AHA, PACES, and AEPC in June 2013. Heart rhythm, 10(12), 1932-1963.

These statements are written by a bunch of scientists/physicians gathering together and comprehensively reviewing literature on some topic. They typically will weigh not only evidence for effect like in meta analysis, but also consider the implications of treatment options including costs, side effects, and the consequences of getting it wrong (for example, if a treatment following a wrong diagnosis masks some other condition that then goes untreated).


@BryanKrause has given a good general answer to this question.

One specific approach (which the poster may or may not already have taken) is to look for links on the publisher’s webpage to subsequent papers that have cited the one of interest. In this case the page shows that there are 107 papers in Web of Science citing the article in question. It also gives direct access to Google Scholar and Crossref. Click and go. Happy reading!

Links to papers citing an article

  • $\begingroup$ Thanks David, you do answers the originally question but, Bryan answer's is the apparently correct for the new question $\endgroup$
    – RodParedes
    May 11 at 18:42
  • $\begingroup$ @RodParedes — no problem. Better to accept his answer. But a gentle suggestion about your English. You have a peculiar tendency (as I’ve never met it before) to put the letter “s” at the end of verbs. I realize it’s tough, but if you are going to communicate in science you need to improve your English. Or cheat, like I do in Italian. Prepare your text in a word processor. Select the text and set the language to English, and then run a grammar test. Think about the errors flagged (the suggestions may not always be right) and check in your basic language reference. $\endgroup$
    – David
    May 11 at 18:50

Use google scholar and have a look at the papers that have recently cited it by filtering for the year the citing paper was published.


More broadly it's often taken that more citations is a positive, though this is impacted by all manner of phenomena and a high citation count could be due to papers negatively reviewing it!


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