Joint Pain And Arthritis: What Are The Alternatives?

by : Steve Dempster

Arthritis is a common condition affecting literally millions of people worldwide. For many, mainstream medical care brings relief. But are there any alternative remedies that are effective?

Firstly, a brief run-down of what arthritis actually is. The fact is that arthritis is a blanket term covering over one hundred different conditions, some common, some uncommon and some extremely rare. Arthritis means inflammation of one or more of the body's joints, generally caused by infection, injury or just the plain wear and tear of life. It can also be a genetic condition.

The causes of arthritis are many and varied and its effects well-known. Pain, inflammation, mobility limitation and redness with swelling are all common symptoms. A strange fact is that people who show little joint damage may experience a great deal of pain, whilst others whose joints show terrible damage sometimes feel little pain, even none at all.

The most common form of arthritis are: osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis and gout.

Some other types include - systemic infectious arthritis, gouty arthritis, psoratic arthritis, bursitis and juvenile rheumatoid arthritis. As stated, there are many more less common forms.

Osteoarthritis (wear-and-tear arthritis) is the most common form of all, especially in elderly people. It is associated with loss of bone tissue in the joints and can limit mobility severely.

Rheumatoid arthritis (rheumatism) is more common in women than in men and usually effects the over-40's. It tends to attack the hands, causing swelling in the knuckles, though it can affect any other part of the body, including the lungs and eyes.

Gout is much more common in men than in women, again usually in the over-40's. It is caused by elevated levels of uric acid in the blood that form crystals in the joints. These are attacked by the body's immune system, thinking them invaders, and inflammation results together with pain that can be localised but severe.

Unfortunately there is as yet no cure for arthritis, especially if the bone or cartilage has become damaged or has deteriorated badly. Conventional arthritis medications help many people and they should be regarded as standard treatment for someone experiencing the onset of the condition. However, it has to be pointed out that these treatments can have severe side effects, including depression, immune system suppression, diarrhea, headaches and elevated blood pressure, intestinal bleeding, nausea and abdominal pain.

Perhaps this is the reason why more and more people - especially those who have suffered from arthritis for some time - turn to alternative forms of treatment and remedies. Conventional medicine does prove effective in the majority of cases - despite the side-effects - but for some it just simply does not give the relief they need. Alternative treatments are many and varied and, whilst little scientific research seems to have been carried out on most of these remedies the fact remains that, at least for some, they work.

Alternative treatments include (alphabetically): Acupressure, Acupuncture, Aromatherapy, Ayurveda, Bach Flower Remedy, Chiropractic, Color Therapy, Food/Diet Therapy, Herbal Medicine, Homeopathy, Hydrotherapy, Hypnosis, Juice Therapy, Massage Therapy, Nutrition Therapy, Oriental Medicine, Reflexology, Tissue Salts, Traditional Chinese Medicine and Yoga.

It is impossible to say which, if any, will work for a given individual - if indeed any will work at all for that person. Yet the fact remains that many sufferers experience relief from joint pain and other arthritic symptoms that they simply cannot find through conventional medicine and, given the nature of arthritis, any relief from pain, however small, is worth consideration.

I'm not suggesting for one minute that anyone should ignore their physician's advice, throw away their medication and go over completely to alternative therapies. However, if you are one of the unlucky ones who find little relief from pain in taking accepted medication, or suffer unpleasant side-effects, it may be well worth considering these alternatives as a new path to pain relief and a better quality of life.