Alternative Treatments for Rheumatoid Arthritis

Written by Stewart G. Eidelson, MD

There are many nonsurgical treatments for rheumatoid arthritis you may consider to reduce your symptoms—and alternative therapies should not be overlooked. Acupuncture, herbal supplements, massage, relaxation, and mind-body exercises may effectively ease inflammation and joint pain.
If you're considering these treatments, talk with your primary doctor or rheumatologist for a referral or recommendation to an alternative, complementary and integrative practitioner. This title can be confusing—even though alternative medicine and complementary medicine follow the same methods, they are different in that alternative forms are used in place of conventional medicine, whereas complementary treatments are used with conventional medicine.

You may also want to visit our Patients' Guide to Healthy Living with Rheumatoid Arthritis. You'll get tips on diet, exercise, and stress management as you deal with RA on a daily basis.

Below are common alternative treatments for rheumatoid arthritis:

A word of caution: Herbs and herbal supplements (eg, pills, teas) may interfere or cause a serious interaction with over-the-counter and/or prescriptions medications. It is always necessary to speak with your primary treating doctor and obtain his/her recommendation before combining drugs.

When you start any new medical program, let your practitioner know if you have any health conditions besides your rheumatoid arthritis pain. It's also important to note that these treatments are most effective when used as complementary treatments (that is, combined with conventional medicine).

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Drugs and Medications for Rheumatoid Arthritis