Alternative Treatments for Rheumatoid Arthritis & Osteoarthritis: What Works, What Doesn't
How to Ease Arthritis with Alternative Medicine
The most common symptoms of arthritis are joint pain and stiffness, which doctors often treat with a combination of medications, physical therapy, or surgery. Although there is little evidence to support it, combining alternative medicine with your other treatments may improve your arthritis symptoms. You can ease arthritis with alternative medicine by taking supplements and herbs and using different therapies such as massage or acupuncture.
Taking Supplements and Herbs
Talk to your doctor.Before trying any type of alternative medicine for your arthritis, visit your doctor. They can help you figure out which alternative therapies are best for your health.
- Tell your doctor which treatments you’ve considered and ask if there are others that may ease your symptoms. Recognize that many alternative medicine treatments for arthritis are controversial within the professional medical community.
Take herbal supplements.Taking herbal supplements may help to ease symptoms of arthritis including inflammation and pain. Some may also increase your mobility.Purchase herbal supplements from a quality and reputable manufacturer to ensure their safety. Organizations such as the National Institutes of Health and Arthritis Foundation have information on specific supplements at their websites.Follow dosing instructions given by your doctor or the product packaging. Common herbal supplements for arthritis include:
- Turmeric or Curcumin
- Devil’s claw
- Black currant oil
- Evening primrose
- Stinging nettle
Get fatty acids.Omega-3 and Gamma-Linolenic Acid are two of the types of fatty acids that may ease arthritis. They have anti-inflammatory properties and may minimize pain, stiffness, and swelling.Most fatty acids come as caplets or oils. Follow dosing instructions given by your doctor or the product packaging. Some of the most common fatty acids for arthritis include:
- Gamma-Linolenic Acid (GLA)
- Black Currant Oil
- Borage Oil
- Fish oil
- Green lipped mussel
- Flaxseed oil
Use glucosamine and chondroitin supplements.Two substances found in human joint tissue are glucosamine and chondroitin. Made into a supplement from natural shellfish, glucosamine and chondroitin may relieve inflammation and other symptoms of arthritis.
- Follow your doctor or pharmacist’s instructions for taking glucosamine and chondroitin.
- Be aware that glucosamine and chondroitin may not be suitable for individuals with asthma, diabetes, blood clotting disorders, or shellfish allergies. You may also have abdominal discomfort when taking glucosamine and chondroitin.
Get supplements through diet.Though many supplements come in pill form, you can also find herbs, vitamins, and minerals in the form of foods such as flaxseed and ginger.Adding certain foods to your diet can reduce inflammation, stiffness, and pain.
- Season dishes with turmeric and ginger to reduce pain, stiffness, and inflammation.
- Sprinkle whole or ground flaxseeds on to cereal, yogurt or even soups.You can also sprinkle rose hips powder on similar dishes to ease your arthritis.
Apply capsaicin creams, gels, or patches.Capsaicin is the compound in chili peppers that makes them hot. But it can also ease the pain of arthritis. You apply capsaicin three times per day as a topical cream, gel, or patch.
- Be aware that capsaicin can cause burning and irritation. Avoid applying it on sensitive skin or near your eyes.
Doing Mind and Body Practices
Undergo acupuncture treatments.Some studies have shown that acupuncture may help relieve pain and other symptoms of arthritis.Schedule an appointment with a certified acupuncture practitioner to ease any pain or discomfort you have because of arthritis. They will insert small, fine needles into specific points on your skin. This may reduce your pain or discomfort.
- Find a local medical acupuncturist at . Ask your doctor or friends and family for recommendations of acupuncturists.
- Ask any questions you may have about the therapy. This may include, “Will the needles hurt,” or “What can I expect?” Let the acupuncturist know your specific symptoms. They can tailor their therapy to these.
Get a massage.Schedule an appointment for a moderate pressure massage.This can increase blood flow and warm affected joints, which may temporarily relieve your pain and/ or any discomfort you have.Massage can also reduce anxiety, stress, and muscle tension that contribute to arthritis symptoms.
- Ask your doctor, family member, or friend to recommend a licensed massage therapist. Find a licensed massage therapist at .
- Tell your massage therapist which of your joints are most affected by arthritis so they can focus on those areas.
Participate in meditative therapies.Activities such as meditation, yoga, t’ai chi, qigong are known as meditative therapies. They combine special movements or posture with breathing exercises.The slow, stretching movements associated with meditative therapies can improve joint flexibility and range of motion in individuals with arthritis.They can also ease stress that makes arthritis symptoms worse.
- Visit local yoga, t’ai chi, or meditation schools. Trying out different classes can help you figure out which meditative therapy works best for you. You can also find yoga, Tai Chi, mindful meditation, and Qigong classes online so that you can enjoy them in the comfort of your home.
- Do yoga classes designed for stretching and relaxation. Restorative and yin yoga, for example, are excellent choices for people with arthritis.
Get physical therapy.Working with a physical therapist can reduce the strain and pressure on swollen and painful joints. In addition to manual therapy, the therapist may counsel on proper positioning and body movements. They may also suggest assistive devices such as braces, splints, and shoe inserts to support your joints and/or relieve pressure on your legs and feet.
- Some physical therapists specialize in working with individuals who have arthritis.Find a physical therapist in your local area within the US at . From here, you can ask if they specialize in arthritis or know someone who does.
Avoid copper bracelets and magnetic wrist straps.Some people with arthritis use copper bracelets or magnetic wrist straps to ease their symptoms. However, there is no medical evidence that either can help your arthritis or symptoms. Avoid using copper bracelets or magnetic wrist straps because they cannot ease your arthritis symptoms any better than a placebo.
Video: Acupuncture Treatments : Osteoarthritis & Acupuncture
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