Joint Arthritis Pain: Alternative Arthritis Therapies

By: Steve Dempster

Mainstream medicine tends to dismiss alternative remedies for arthritis in favour of drug therapy and established treatments. This article discusses some of the alternative therapies available. Do they work or not?

There are many forms of arthritis and it can affect sufferers in different ways and to greater or lesser degrees. One factor is common, however: pain - usually joint pain that can be unremitting and at times severe.

Conventional drug therapy can and does provide a great deal of relief from the joint pain associated with both osteo and rheumatoid arthritis but these drugs can also have unwanted side-effects. Too, many people are wary or uncomfortable at the idea of taking significant amounts of synthetic drugs and turn to what, for want of a better phrase, are termed 'alternative medicines'.

These alternatives cover a whole spectrum of ingredients and regimes, from acupuncture to Yoga. Here are some details on just a few of them:

Acupuncture. This ancient practice often calls images to the mind of a person riddled with hundreds of needles like a pincushion, yet normally no more than a dozen are used at any one time. How acupuncture works to alleviate pain is not fully understood, though many theories on the subject are based on sound scientific facts.

Bee Venom Therapy. Also known as Apitherapy, BVT concerns the application of honeybee through live bee stings. It is thought that the healing potency of this method relies on the stimulation of the release of cortisol from the adrenal glands.

Cortisol is a natural human hormone that has anti-inflammatory properties and in addition jump-starts the immune system to produce a healing response. It also spurs the production of endorphins, the body's natural painkiller.

Magnetic Therapy. The debate about the effectiveness of magnetic therapy for the treatment of arthritic pain rages on and shows no signs of abating. There seems to be little or no scientific evidence that either confirms or denies, in an absolute sense, the effectiveness of magnetic therapy.

Magnetic therapy is not new - far from it. The Ancient Greeks knew of the lodestone and claimed it had healing properties. The Chinese have used magnetic therapies for literally thousands of years. It would seem that if the magnet is indeed of no use in pain relief it is a most enduring medical myth!

Glucosamine. This substance is found in high concentrations in the joints and the theory is that it stimulates essential cartilage formation for joint repair. It has been seen to have beneficial effects on inflammation and arthritic conditions, whilst medical studies indicate that Glucosamine is effective in relieving pain and increasing joint mobility. It is now classed as a dietary supplement.

Yoga. Although to date only a handful of scientific studies have been conducted on the benefits of Yoga to arthritis sufferers (despite any rumour or hearsay), it looks like more are either currently underway or about to begin. Existing studies do indicate an improvement of physical function and reduction in joint pain. However, the most positive aspect of Yoga therapy appears, according to the reports, to be the improvement to the quality of life of the sufferer.

So what should an arthritis sufferer do? On the one hand - accepted medical treatment. On the other - alternative treatment that may or may not be effective. It unfortunately falls to the individual to decide, though it should be remembered that a life spent in almost constant pain can cloud judgement. This author advises that before making any change, small or radical, to any medical regime, the advice of a medical professional or arthritis specialist should be sought.

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