Rheumatoid Arthritis Treatments

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Question

What alternative therapies are there for rheumatoid arthritis?

Answer

Prescription medicines are usually the first treatment choice, however some people with rheumatoid arthritis have tried alternative therapies. Some people have tried supplements to reduce symptoms of arthritis. Examples include omega-3 fatty acids (fish oil) and gamma-linolenic acid (evening primrose and borage). Additional botanical supplements include valerian, ginger, curcumin (turmeric), boswellia, feverfew and thunder god vine (used in traditional Chinese medicine).

Over-the-counter treatments for rheumatoid arthritis

Over-the-counter drugs such as aspirin, ibuprofen, (Motrin®, Advil®), and naproxen (Aleve®) can help to ease the pain of rheumatoid arthritis and are often the first treatment choice. Also, higher prescription-level doses of these drugs can help reduce inflammation. Creams and lotions such as Zostrix® (capsaicin) can help relieve pain for some people. These products are rubbed onto the affected joints three to four times daily. Capsaicin creams are usually not as effective as oral medications.

Other rheumatoid arthritis alternative therapies

Programs using alternative therapies for rheumatoid arthritis such as massage, tai chi, meditation, or acupuncture in combination with traditional medications also appear to be beneficial for people with rheumatoid arthritis. Some of these therapies for rheumatoid arthritis haven't been well studied, and little information is available about their effectiveness, side effects, and drug interactions. It's important to discuss any of these therapies with your doctor before trying them. More information on rheumatoid arthritis in our Health Encyclopedia.

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