Modern traditional medicine offers the people with arthritic hands a selection of treatments that can relieve pain and stiffness. However, there is no cure for arthritis, and these alternatives do not always provide total relief.
When some people find that traditional remedies do not work, natural or alternative treatments can help. The 2007 National Health Survey found that 5.2% of American adults with joint pain or stiffness resort to complementary health treatments to relieve their symptoms.
In addition, 3, 5% use them to treat arthritis after considering or testing treatments with heat or cold; anti-inflammatory medications such as acetaminophen (Tylenol), ibuprofen (Advil) and celecoxib (Celebrex); the anesthetic and steroid injections; splints for severe pain; and, finally, surgeries.
Some treatments may be promising, even if it is to improve mood (and mood can affect the way you deal with physical pain).
The National Institutes of Health's National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM)
Alternative Treatments for Rheumatoid Arthritis
The National Institute of Health for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (National Institutes of Health's National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine - NCCAM) concludes that there is not enough scientific evidence to show that natural or alternative treatments can help someone with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) in the hand or other part of the body.
However, the NCAAM suggests that some treatments may be promising, at least to improve mood, if they do not relieve pain, and mood can affect the way you deal with physical pain. These include mind and body techniques such as meditation, relaxation, symbolism, and biofeedback.
Still unproven, some dietary supplements may be used to treat RA in the future, such as:
• Fish oil • Gamma-linolenic acid • Vine grass of the thunder god
Recent research with animals also indicates that other promising supplementary treatments may include:
• Turmeric • Boswellia, a genus of trees • Ginger • Green tea
Alternative treatments for osteoarthritis The NCCAM cites some studies that suggest several natural or alternative methods for the treatment of arthritis that can help reduce pain and improve joint mobility. Most studies focused on arthritis of the hip and knee.It is possible that some of the alternative means may also provide some relief for arthritis of the hand. So far, the results suggest that these methods may be useful:
• Acupuncture can reduce pain and increase joint mobility. • Massage can reduce pain and facilitate movement. • Tai Chi can reduce pain and facilitate movement.
An article by Drugs and Aging in 2003 stated that those suffering from osteoarthritis could benefit from taking supplements or nutraceuticals (foods that provide medical benefits), including:
• Chondroitin sulfate • Glucosamine • Possibly unsaponifiables Avocado and soy (the components of fats and oils)
However, the most recent studies cited by the NCCAM, provide no evidence that these supplements are effective. Other natural and alternative treatments that lack scientific evidence are:
• Dietary supplements DMSO and MSM • Magnets • Homeopathy
There is not enough evidence to claim that the SAM supplement is effective, although some studies indicate that It can provide some relief for pain.
Some notices from the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine to consider:
• If you have arthritis, do not substitute conventional treatment with natural remedies that are not proven. • Dietary supplements have not been shown to relieve the symptoms of osteoarthritis or to reverse or treat the cause of the disease. • Some natural or alternative treatments can have serious side effects and interfere with other medications.
For all your medical conditions, tell your doctor, pharmacist and other health professionals about everything you are taking or doing to treat your condition. This can prevent dangerous interactions with medications, and will also allow you, together with your doctor, to develop a coordinated treatment plan.
About the author
Dean Haycock holds a Ph.D. in Biology from Brown University and received a grant from the National Institute of Mental Health to study at Rockefeller University.
His neuropharmacology research has been published in the press releases of Neurochemistry, Biological Chemistry, Medical Chemistry, Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics and Brain Research.
Haycock is the author of "Everything Health Guide to Schizophrenia," "The Everything Health Guide to Adult Bipolar Disorder, 2nd edition.", and is the co-author of "Overcoming Complications of LASIK and Other Eye Surgeries" (Overcoming the complications of LASIK and other eye surgeries).