Are You Considering Complementary RA Therapies? Consider This First
It is important to make sure that you have been diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis by a healthcare provider who has substantial conventional medical training and experience treating people with arthritis. Rheumatoid arthritis can be hard to diagnose, since there is no single test for it and its symptoms can be similar to those of other conditions. Some important points to consider include:
- Proven conventional treatments for rheumatoid arthritis should not be replaced with an alternative therapy that is unproven. This is especially important in the early stages of the disease, which is when researchers believe the most damage to joints and bones occurs.
- Tell your healthcare provider(s) about any supplements or medications (prescription or over-the-counter) that you are using or considering. Prescribed medicines may need to be adjusted if you are also using an alternative therapy. Supplements can interact with medications (whether prescription or over-the-counter) and can affect how the body responds to them. Pharmacists can also be a helpful source of information about dietary supplements, though their advice is not a substitute for that of your healthcare provider.
- If you decide to use supplements, what you see on the label may not reflect what is in the bottle. For example, some botanical supplements have been found to be contaminated with heavy metals or prescription drugs, and some have been found to have much more or much less of the featured ingredient than their label states.
- The claims for many alternative therapies can be attractive, ranging from enhancing well-being, to helping with difficult chronic conditions, to achieving unbelievable results. It is important to know whether scientific research has proven that a therapy works and, if so, why.
- Women who are pregnant or nursing, or people who are thinking of using an alternative therapy to treat a child, should use extra caution and be sure to consult their healthcare providers.