Alternative Therapies for Osteoarthritis

Alternative Therapies Used as Treatments for Osteoarthritis

Many people with osteoarthritis become discouraged with typical treatments because the disease progresses over time and the symptoms worsen. Consequently, they search for alternative therapies aimed at treating osteoarthritis. But people living with osteoarthritis need to be careful because treatments that are not shown to be safe and effective through controlled scientific studies may be dangerous. Also, since arthritis symptoms may come and go, a person using an unproven remedy may mistakenly think the remedy worked simply because he or she tried it when symptoms were going into a natural remission.
 
Among the alternative therapies often used to treat osteoarthritis are:
 
  • Acupuncture
  • Folk remedies
  • Nutritional supplements.
     
Acupuncture
Some people have found pain relief through acupuncture (the use of fine needles inserted at specific points on the skin). Preliminary research shows that acupuncture may be a useful component in an osteoarthritis treatment plan for some people (see Acupuncture for Osteoarthritis).
 
Folk Remedies
Some people seek alternative treatments for their pain and disability. Some of these alternative therapies include wearing copper bracelets, drinking herbal teas, and taking mud baths. While these practices are not harmful, some can be expensive. And any unproven remedy, no matter how harmless, can become harmful if it stops or delays someone from seeking a prescribed treatment program from a knowledgeable physician. To date, no scientific research shows these approaches to be helpful as osteoarthritis treatments.
 
Nutritional Supplements
Nutrients such as glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate have claimed to improve the symptoms of people with osteoarthritis. However, based on a large study funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), these two supplements were shown to offer no pain-relief benefits, either alone or combined, compared to a placebo (sugar pill).
 
(Click Natural Cures for Arthritis for more information on alternative therapies that may be used for the treatment of osteoarthritis.)
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