Alternative therapies improve lives of patients with rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis

Among patients with rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis, nearly a quarter used complementary and alternative therapy to help manage their condition, according to a study published in the Journal of Clinical Nursing. The researchers advised that patients should be cautious about their use and tell their health care providers if they use these in addition to their conventional medicines.

Researchers conducted questionnaire-based interviews among 250 patients who were diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis or osteoarthritis. Demographic information, clinical information, use of conventional therapies and complementary and alternative therapy (CAT), and the disease status before and after CAT use were included in the questionnaire.

In addition to conventional medications, 23.2% of patients used CAT in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis or osteoarthritis. According to study results, the most common CAT used was herbal therapy (24%), followed by exercise (22%), massage (12%), acupuncture (3%), yoga and meditation (3%) and dietary supplements (3%). Researchers found that 64% of patients taking herbal medicines believed that CAT was beneficial, reporting improvements in pain intensity, sleeping patterns and activity levels, although 24% of these patients sought medical care because of potential concomitant drug-complementary therapy side effects. However, these side effects were not serious and reversible.

“Our study underlines the importance of health care professionals being knowledgeable about the potential use of CAT when providing medical care to patients with arthritis,” Nada Alaaeddine,PhD, head of the Regenerative and Inflammation Lab in the faculty of medicine at the University of St. Joseph, Beirut, Lebanon. “Although CAT might have beneficial effects in rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis, patients should be cautious about their use and should tell their health care providers that they are using them to make sure they don’t conflict with their existing treatment.”

For more information:

Alaaeddine N. J ClinNurs. 2012;doi10.1111/j.1365-2702.2012.04169.x

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