Rheumatoid Arthritis Ra Alternative Therapies

A number of possible rheumatoid arthritis treatments come under the heading of alternative therapies. Few of them have been subjected to intense clinical trials, although some have received a measure of acceptance by the scientific community. Whether they work depends on whom you talk to. For instance, some people swear that magnetic bracelets relieve their joint swelling, while others experience no relief at all.

Perhaps the best attitude taken towards most of the alternative therapy options is that it won’t hurt you to try them. With an open mind (and a healthy amount of skepticism) you may find a technique that brings you some symptomatic relief. One warning, though: Product claims that profess to cure arthritis are simply false. A cure does not yet exist.

Integrative Medicine

Integrative medicine combines conventional medicine with alternative therapies. Conventional rheumatoid arthritis medications such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and corticosteroids may be combined with yoga, acupuncture or aromatherapy. The goal is to treat the whole person, not just the disease. Integrative medicine takes a long-term approach to treatment and focuses on the patient as an individual.

Integrative medicine allows people to explore alternative therapies while under the care of a qualified medical practitioner. The goal is to increase an individual’s overall mental and physical well being while simultaneously treating the rheumatoid arthritis. All doctors do not accept the practice and finding a doctor who’s willing to accept both conventional medical practices and non-conventional approaches can be difficult. The idea, however, is slowly gaining acceptance.

Pain Relief: Acupuncture and Acupressure

Acupuncture appears to offer some relief from rheumatoid arthritis symptoms. Western medicine has found that acupuncture lives up to many of its claims. As acupressure works by stimulating the same pressure points as acupuncture, it may also offer some relief. Therapeutic massage also claims to ease joint pain.

Meditation and Relaxation Techniques

Pain control techniques can help rheumatoid arthritis sufferers cope with inflammation pain. Meditation, relaxation techniques, stress reduction and hypnosis all have the potential to help with pain control. Pain control techniques can be performed almost anywhere, making them very convenient. They do, however, require some time to learn, and must be consistently put into practice to work effectively.

Aromatherapy

Unless you’re allergic to essential oils, aromatherapy is a pretty safe alternative therapy. Diluted rosemary and chamomile oils can be massaged directly into the skin, or added to bathwater for soothing soaks.

Tai Chi and Yoga: Movement Therapy

The gentle, controlled movements of Tai Chi and yoga are said to loosen joints affected by rheumatoid arthritis. In theory, this allows the joints to regain some of the mobility lost to swelling and inflammation. If nothing else, Tai Chi offers a gentle form of exercise that won’t overly aggravate sore joints.

Homeopathy

Homeopathy may or may not have an effect on rheumatoid arthritis. Homeopathy assumes that exposing the patient to small amounts of the disease-causing agent can treat a disease. The concept doesn’t sit well with many conventional medical professionals, but some people claim that their rheumatoid arthritis symptoms responded well to this type of treatment.

Magnet Therapy

Magnets have been used to treat sore muscles and stiffness since the time of the ancient Egyptians. Magnetic bracelets, braces and necklaces for rheumatoid arthritis treatment are available. Reactions vary widely: some people report no effect at all, while others claim that their stiffness and swelling is significantly reduced. Magnetic aids such as braces are expensive, but other than a blow to your bank account, using them isn’t likely to cause you any harm.

Herbal Supplements

Herbal supplements aren’t generally very effective for treating rheumatoid arthritis symptoms. While a number of herbs do possess anti-inflammatory properties, the amounts present in most supplements are too small to make a noticeable difference. Few herbal supplements have undergone clinical trials to determine either their safety or efficacy.

Lifestyle Changes

An old myth says that people with arthritis should move to a dry environment. That would be a simple solution for many, but the reality is that arthritis affects people all over the world. Moving won’t provide you with an escape from your symptoms. You can, however, make some lifestyle changes that will help. Extra weight puts pressure on joints, especially the knees and hips. Maintaining a healthy weight prevents this from happening. This may require changes to both eating habits and exercise routines. Talk to your health care provider if you need help deciding on an exercise that doesn’t put stress on your joints.

Resources

Horstman, J. (nd). Homeopathy.

Horstman, J. (nd). More than medicine.

National Library of Medicine. (updated 2004). Rheumatoid arthritis. MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia.

Sharp, K. (2001). Magnet therapy. Gale Encyclopedia of Alternative Medicine.

Shiel, W.C. (reviewed 2002). Arthritis quackery (unproven remedies and tests). MedicineNet, Inc.

Wright, K. (2001). Rheumatoid arthritis. Gale Encyclopedia of Alternative Medicine.