Complementary Therapies for Arthritis

What Is Complementary Therapy?

Complementary therapy includes treatments and products that are not traditionally used in conventional medicine and treatments. They range from ancient systems of medicine, for example; Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and Ayurveda, to treatments such as massage, chiropractic and osteopathy, herbal medicine and aromatherapy.

Complementary therapy emphasises ‚Äėwellness‚Äô that¬†comes from a balance between the body, the mind and¬†the environment. Complementary therapy practitioners¬†aim to restore this balance by treating each person as a¬†unique individual, often recommending lifestyle changes¬†and encouraging a person to take a more active approach¬†to their own health.

Today, the gap between conventional treatment and complementary therapy is blurring. Many complementary treatments are based on anatomy and physiology, while modern treatments utilise a more holistic approach and have adopted some therapies that originated in complementary therapy.

Should You Try Complementary Therapy?

Before starting any complementary treatment or product it is important to check what evidence is available to suggest that it may work for you. Several complementary treatments are beginning to be backed up by scientific evidence. However, for many others, it is still unclear whether they are truly effective, harmful or just a waste of time and money.

In some cases, the beneficial effects of complementary therapy may last for only a short time, often without a long term benefit. This may be due to the placebo effect when people feel better or show physiological signs of improvement because they believe a therapy is working.

More research is needed to analyse the long term results of complementary treatments.

As always, you should ask your GP about any complementary therapy you might be considering.

What Complementary Therapies Can Be Used For Arthritis?

Nutrition 

Maintaining a healthy body weight is an important factor in maintaining overall health and in managing arthritis. A diet low in saturated fats and high in omega-3 and fruit and vegetables is recommended. There is some evidence that vegetarian diets can be beneficial for people with inflammatory types of arthritis.
Read more

Herbs and Supplements

Herbal remedies have been used in many cultures since ancient times. Today about one-quarter of pharmaceutical preparations contain at least one active ingredient extracted from plant sources. Medical herbalists and naturopaths work with herbal remedies using the whole plant. Read more

Manual Therapies

There is a wide variety of manual therapies including acupressure, chiropractic, massage and osteopathy. The latest research reviews demonstrate that some people with lower back pain can benefit from osteopathy, and massage therapy can be helpful for some people with Fibromyalgia. Read more

Relaxation Techniques

Relaxation techniques include muscle relaxation, refocusing, breathing control or visual imagery.

Relaxation techniques are an important part of yoga and tai chi. Progressive muscle relaxation is used to help with muscle tension and cope with pain, while there’s little evidence that it is effective in the treatment
of Rheumatoid Arthritis and Osteoarthritis, there’s promising evidence to suggest that it may be useful for Fibromyalgia and low back pain.

Mindfulness Meditation

Mindfulness meditation is becoming popular with mainstream health practitioners. It involves nonjudgmental attention to experiences in the present moment. This technique can be beneficial for people with Rheumatoid Arthritis.

Researchers have found that it helps to regulate emotions and improves people’s ability to cope with pain. They noted that those with a history of depression responded better than others to mindfulness meditation.

Complementary Therapies Factsheet

(Downloadable PDF)

Complementary-therapies-nutrients

Complementary Therapies Video Playlist

Safety Checklist Before Trying Complementary Therapies for Arthritis

If you decide to try a complementary medicine treatment, the following checklist will help ensure your treatment is reliable and safe:
  • Contact the professional association for your chosen¬†therapy and ask for a list of members in your area.
  • Be very cautious about any practitioner who advises¬†you to abandon your conventional medical treatment.
  • During the first visit ask your practitioner about their¬†training, experience and qualifications.
  • Ask your complementary therapist how this treatment¬†or product works and whether they are safe.
  • Ask how much the treatment will cost and how long¬†it will take.
  • Find out if they have indemnity insurance if something goes wrong.
  • Ask your complementary therapy practitioner about¬†any possible interactions of the product or therapy¬†with your current medical treatment.

Key Points About Complementary Therapy and Arthritis:

Take responsibility of your health by being an informed consumer. Find out and consider what scientific studies have been done on the safety and effectiveness of the complementary therapy that interests you.

Keep in mind that ‚Äúnatural‚ÄĚ does not¬†necessarily mean ‚Äúsafe‚ÄĚ, be aware that¬†some products may interact with medications¬†(prescription or over-the-counter dietary¬†supplements), and some may have side effects¬†on their own.

Always tell your doctor and your complementary medicine practitioner of all drugs, treatments and remedies you take.

! Never stop taking prescribed medication without talking to your GP or specialist !

COMPLEMENTARY THERAPIES DISCLAIMER

Complementary therapies information is meant for education ‚Äď Arthritis New Zealand – Mateponapona Aotearoa does not endorse any products or therapies mentioned in this guide. While we endeavour to keep the information up to date, we make no representations or warranties about the completeness of the information provided.

 

What Is Complementary Therapy?

Complementary therapy includes treatments and products that are not traditionally used in conventional medicine and treatments. They range from ancient systems of medicine, for example; Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and Ayurveda, to treatments such as massage, chiropractic and osteopathy, herbal medicine and aromatherapy.

Complementary therapy emphasises ‚Äėwellness‚Äô that¬†comes from a balance between the body, the mind and¬†the environment. Complementary therapy practitioners¬†aim to restore this balance by treating each person as a¬†unique individual, often recommending lifestyle changes¬†and encouraging a person to take a more active approach¬†to their own health.

Today, the gap between conventional treatment and complementary therapy is blurring. Many complementary treatments are based on anatomy and physiology, while modern treatments utilise a more holistic approach and have adopted some therapies that originated in complementary therapy.

Should You Try Complementary Therapy?

Before starting any complementary treatment or product it is important to check what evidence is available to suggest that it may work for you. Several complementary treatments are beginning to be backed up by scientific evidence. However, for many others, it is still unclear whether they are truly effective, harmful or just a waste of time and money.

In some cases, the beneficial effects of complementary therapy may last for only a short time, often without a long term benefit. This may be due to the placebo effect when people feel better or show physiological signs of improvement because they believe a therapy is working.

More research is needed to analyse the long term results of complementary treatments.

As always, you should ask your GP about any complementary therapy you might be considering.

What Complementary Therapies Can Be Used For Arthritis?

Nutrition 

Maintaining a healthy body weight is an important factor in maintaining overall health and in managing arthritis. A diet low in saturated fats and high in omega-3 and fruit and vegetables is recommended. There is some evidence that vegetarian diets can be beneficial for people with inflammatory types of arthritis.
Read more

Herbs and Supplements

Herbal remedies have been used in many cultures since ancient times. Today about one-quarter of pharmaceutical preparations contain at least one active ingredient extracted from plant sources. Medical herbalists and naturopaths work with herbal remedies using the whole plant. Read more

Manual Therapies

There is a wide variety of manual therapies including acupressure, chiropractic, massage and osteopathy. The latest research reviews demonstrate that some people with lower back pain can benefit from osteopathy, and massage therapy can be helpful for some people with Fibromyalgia. Read more

Relaxation Techniques

Relaxation techniques include muscle relaxation, refocusing, breathing control or visual imagery.

Relaxation techniques are an important part of yoga and tai chi. Progressive muscle relaxation is used to help with muscle tension and cope with pain, while there’s little evidence that it is effective in the treatment
of Rheumatoid Arthritis and Osteoarthritis, there’s promising evidence to suggest that it may be useful for Fibromyalgia and low back pain.

Mindfulness Meditation

Mindfulness meditation is becoming popular with mainstream health practitioners. It involves nonjudgmental attention to experiences in the present moment. This technique can be beneficial for people with Rheumatoid Arthritis.

Researchers have found that it helps to regulate emotions and improves people’s ability to cope with pain. They noted that those with a history of depression responded better than others to mindfulness meditation.

Complementary Therapies and Arthritis Factsheet

(Downloadable PDF)

Complementary-therapies-nutrients

Complementary Therapies Video Playlist:

Safety Checklist Before Trying Complementary Therapies for Arthritis

If you decide to try a complementary medicine treatment, the following checklist will help ensure your treatment is reliable and safe:
  • Contact the professional association for your chosen¬†therapy and ask for a list of members in your area.
  • Be very cautious about any practitioner who advises¬†you to abandon your conventional medical treatment.
  • During the first visit ask your practitioner about their¬†training, experience and qualifications.
  • Ask your complementary therapist how this treatment¬†or product works and whether they are safe.
  • Ask how much the treatment will cost and how long¬†it will take.
  • Find out if they have indemnity insurance if something
    goes wrong.
  • Ask your complementary therapy practitioner about¬†any possible interactions of the product or therapy¬†with your current medical treatment.

Key Points About Complementary Therapy and Arthritis:

Take responsibility of your health by being an informed consumer. Find out and consider what scientific studies have been done on the safety and effectiveness of the complementary therapy that interests you.

Keep in mind that ‚Äúnatural‚ÄĚ does not¬†necessarily mean ‚Äúsafe‚ÄĚ, be aware that¬†some products may interact with medications¬†(prescription or over-the-counter dietary¬†supplements), and some may have side effects¬†on their own.

Always tell your doctor and your complementary medicine practitioner of all drugs, treatments and remedies you take.

! Never stop taking prescribed medication without talking to your GP or specialist !

COMPLEMENTARY THERAPIES DISCLAIMER

Complementary therapies information is meant for education ‚Äď Arthritis New Zealand – Mateponapona Aotearoa does not endorse any products or therapies mentioned in this guide. While we endeavour to keep the information up to date, we make no representations or warranties about the completeness of the information provided.

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