The Importance of Follow-up Care and Does Complementary Therapy Work?

Routine Monitoring and Ongoing Care

Regular medical care is important to monitor the course of the disease, determine the effectiveness and any negative effects of medications, and change therapies as needed. Monitoring typically includes regular visits to the doctor. It also may include blood, urine, and other laboratory tests and x-rays.
People with rheumatoid arthritis may want to discuss preventing osteoporosis with their healthcare provider as part of their long-term, ongoing care. Osteoporosis is a condition in which bones become weakened and fragile. Having rheumatoid arthritis increases the risk of developing osteoporosis for both men and women, particularly if a person takes corticosteroids. Such people may want to talk with their healthcare provider about the potential benefits of calcium and vitamin D supplements, hormone therapy, or other treatments for osteoporosis.
(Click Osteoporosis and Rheumatoid Arthritis for more information.)

Alternative and Complementary Therapies

Special diets, vitamin supplements, and other alternative approaches have been suggested for rheumatoid arthritis treatment. Although many of these approaches may not be harmful in and of themselves, controlled scientific studies either have not been conducted on them or have found no definite benefit to these therapies. Some alternative or complementary approaches may help the person cope or reduce some of the stress associated with living with a chronic illness.
As with any therapy, people should discuss the benefits and drawbacks with their healthcare provider before beginning an alternative or new type of therapy. If he or she feels the approach has value and will not be harmful, it can be incorporated into the treatment plan. However, it is important not to neglect regular healthcare.
(Click Alternative Therapies for Rheumatoid Arthritis for more information on treatment alternatives such as vitamins, herbs, magnets, and acupuncture.)
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