Arthritis Self-Help

Complementary Therapies For Osteoarthritis


There has been a growing increase in the use of complementary therapies for the treatment of osteoarthritis. Osteoarthritis or OA is a severe condition that has contributed to most cases of disability we have in the world today. This sickness comes with pains in the joints, muscles, and other areas in the body. Like arthritis, osteoarthritis can lead to weakness, fatigue, fever, stiffness, and inflammation. This is why treatment against this condition is often directed at reducing pain in the joint and other related areas in the body.

While medical and home remedies can be very effective for the treatment of this sickness, some complementary therapies are very effective. These complementary therapies are also without any adverse side effects like some medical treatments such as analgesic medications. The complementary therapies examined in this article include acupuncture, massage, yoga, and Tai Chi.

Tai Chi Therapy

Tai Chi is a Chinese mind-body exercise used to promote overall body wellness. The exercise is often done in a group-based format, and include meditation, gentle movement of the body, and deep breathing. Tai Chi class occurs two to three times a week, and each class lasts for one hour. The class often begins with warm-up exercises and gradually progress to deep breathing and meditation. After this, specific movements are practiced for a while, and the class is concluded with a directed cooldown.

Studies like the Wang et al., 2009 and Fransen, Nairn, Winstanley, Lam, & Edmonds, 2007 revealed that Osteoarthritis patients that practiced the group based Tai Chi program at least once in a week for a minimum of eight weeks record great success. The studies focused on the effect of Tai Chi on OA patients who practices this for 24-48 weeks. Most of the patients used for the study are adult women. The result shows significant improvement in quality life, reduced pain and stiffness in joints, reduced inflammatory conditions, reduce the fear of falling, and improved physical functions.

In another study that compares the effect of practicing Tai Chi and other related exercises for the treatment of OA, the result shows a significant reduction in joint pain and stiffness. This combination also helps to improve physical functioning and reduce depressive symptoms.

More importantly, there is no reported side effect of using Tai Chi as a complementary therapy for osteoarthritis. Hence, it is safe and can be administered to both adult and young males and females suffering from osteoarthritis.

Acupuncture Therapy

Acupuncture is a wellness therapy that originated from traditional Chinese society. It is also one of the complementary treatments administered on osteoarthritis patients. This therapy is practiced by professionals who are both certified and licensed to practice it.

Acupuncture includes the use of small thin needles to puncture some anatomical points in the body. This practice is usually carried out with or without electrical needle stimulation. The number of acupuncture per session ranges from a minimum of 2 to a maximum of 8, and the duration of treatment is 2 to 26 weeks. The practice is believed to unblock natural energy pathways referred to as meridians.

Similar to acupuncture is another practice called acupressure. Acupressure is the use of pressure to unblock natural energy pathways. While acupuncture entails puncturing, acupressure does not include puncture.

On the effect of acupuncture on osteoarthritis, studies have revealed that acupuncture is an effective complementary therapy. Notable among these studies are Selfe & Taylor, 2008, Foster et al., 2007 and Manheimer et al., 2010. In the study by Manheimer et al., 2010. About 3,500 OA patients were taken on a consistent 11 times acupuncture therapy. The result reveals that acupuncture can significantly reduce the pains associated with osteoarthritis. Also, the treatment helps to improve physical function and body flexibility. On the risk of the therapy, Manheimer et al., 2010 revealed that the adverse effect is 0.05 per 10,000.

Therefore, acupuncture is a safe complementary therapy for the treatment of osteoarthritis.

Yoga Therapy

Yoga is a mind and body exercise used to promote mindfulness, relaxation, body strength, and overall body wellness. Yoga programs often include stretching, relaxation, deep breathing, and exercises. Some of the programs can be channeled at specific body postures and poses. Yoga is usually done in groups and handled by a certified coach.

There is two notable research on the effect of yoga on osteoarthritis: Garfinkel, Schumacher, Husain, Levy, & Reshetar, 1994 and Haaz, 2010. Garfinkel et al. ‘s study examined 17 patients suffering from hand OA and within the age of 52 to 79. The patients were split into different groups, where they undergo a specific Yoga class for eight weeks. The class lasted for 60 mins and is done once every week. After the eight weeks, the result reveals that all patients experience a significant reduction in hand joint pain. The patients also experience an overall reduction in hand tenderness and increased strength to engage in more activities.

Similarly, in the study conducted by Haas (2010), it was revealed that yoga is an effective therapy for osteoarthritis. Haas study was carried out on 75 patients with rheumatoid arthritis or OA within the age of 50-70. The class lasted for 60 mins and occurred twice a week. The patients were also advised to repeat the program once a week. After eight weeks, all the patients experienced a significant reduction in body and joint pains. The patients also experience increased body flexibility, reduced depression symptoms, and improved physical functions.

From the result, it can be inferred that yoga is a very effective complementary therapy for osteoarthritis.

Massage Therapy

Massage is a therapeutic practice that involves kneading, pressing, and rubbing the body. Massage also includes the manipulation of tender body muscles and the compression of specific natural energy pathways known as a meridian. This practice is done with the hand and fingers. There are different massaging techniques. The most common ones are neuromuscular massage, Swedish, and trigger-points.

Some studies on the effect of massage on osteoarthritis revealed that this therapy is very effective. The two notable studies on this are Perlman, Sabina, Williams, Njike, & Katz, 2006 and Yip & Tam, 2008. According to Perlman et al. (2006), 68 OA patients within the age of 50-80 were administered to eight weeks of massaging therapy. During the first four weeks, all patients underwent a one hour massage twice a week; then, the massage was reduced to once a week in the final four weeks. After eight weeks, the patients experienced a significant reduction in joint pain and stiffness. They also experience an increase in physical activities and overall body wellness.

A similar study was carried out by Yip & Tam, 2008. Massage therapy was administered to 59 adults with mild to severe knee aged 60 and above. Each patient underwent six weeks of massage therapy with aromatic oil. The session lasted for 30 minutes and occurred once a week. After six weeks, all the patients experienced a significant improvement in their health and physical activities. Also, no adverse effect was recorded.

These studies show that massage is a great complementary therapy for osteoarthritis.

The above explanation on the effect of complementary therapies like Yoga, Tai Chi, massage, and acupuncture on osteoarthritis revealed that they are very effective with little or no side effects. Also, they can be administered to both young and old males and females suffering from osteoarthritis. However, there is no study on the long term effect of the therapies.

Also, when administering any of these therapies to osteoarthritis patients, it is important to take note of the duration of the sickness. Long term patients of OA who are very aged would find it challenging to engage in Yoga and Tai Chi. All of these should be taken into considerations before encouraging a patient to try out the therapies.


How Acupuncture Can Help Arthritis

Do you want to battle the signs and symptoms of arthritis unconditionally? Acupuncture might be the way. Seeking alternative medicine has now been a common thing throughout the world today. Driven by the aim of getting recovery from arthritic pain and limitations has delved them in seeking help outside orthodox practices. Out of the available options for them, Acupuncture has displayed its colorful wings as it gives them bright hopes. Acupuncture is phenomenal at reducing pain, inflammation, and most of the other signs and symptoms presented with arthritis. It also presents with little or no side effects, thus giving it an edge over the conventional drugs.
This article will discuss how this magical healing modality can improve the signs and symptoms of arthritis.

Benefits of using Acupuncture in arthritis

Acupuncture is an energy-based medical practice that involves the use of needles at strategic places that could connect with the body meridian. This approach signals the body to put on its self-healing mechanisms. In treating arthritis, acupunctural medical procedures are followed in a grand style. It involves placing needles at local points on the joints since the signs and symptoms are restricted to the place. That been said, lets now look into how this magical modality can help arthritis;

Analgesic effect of Acupuncture

People with arthritis often complain of pain, which can be so severe at times. And it has been noted that this level of pain can cause severe limitations in their activities of daily living. Many people opt for natural remedies such as Acupuncture because of the side effects of NSAIDs they use in managing their pain level.

When acupuncture needles are applied to the appropriate acupressure, the needle stimulates the sensory nerves responsible for pain perception, the A and C fibers. In response to this stimulation, the peripheral sensory nerves connected to the localized area of application are activated to block the transmission of pain signals. It shuts down the pain gate and diminishes the level of pain felt. The sensory reflex activity of Acupuncture causes endogenous opioids like Encephalin and Beta-endorphins to be released by the pituitary gland into the bloodstream. It binds with the necessary receptors to bring about relief in the level of pain.

Anti-Inflammatory effect of Acupuncture

Chronic inflammation is implicated in the disease process of arthritis. This inflammatory response often results in some pathological changes at the level of bones and soft tissues surrounding the joints. These pathological changes, which include synovitis, erosion of the bone structures, ligament damages, muscle weakness, etc. brings about the secondary complications associated with arthritis. Because of this, one can only say that it is vital to reduce inflammation to the lowest level possible.

For many years now, Acupuncture procedures have been employed for their anti-inflammatory effects in treating arthritis. It is due to the stimulation of a sensory reflex brought about by the mechanical action of Acupuncture. This stimulation brings about the direct influence on the expression of inflammatory mediators such as Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha, Interleukin, and some other pro-inflammatory cytokines. Their down-regulation plays a significant role in alleviating inflammatory response caused by arthritis.

Repair of Cartilage

Joint cartilages get degenerated progressively in arthritis, and this makes the joint painful as the structural components directly rub each other. This degeneration limits the joint functional properties such as movement. However, cartilage degeneration has been a significant problem clinically speaking, because of cartilage’s inability to repair itself. It lacks blood supply and potent stem cells.

Acupuncture has been an excellent tool in influencing the repair of cartilage by regulating the action of pro-inflammatory cytokines and growth factors on the chondrocytes’ metabolic activities. Overall, the over expression of growth factors, especially TGF-Beta1 and IGF, can be inhibited with a warm needling treatment to accelerate cartilage repair in people with arthritis.

Improving Joint Range of Motion

Pain and inflammation in an arthritic joint are usually accompanied by Joint stiffness, especially in the morning, which results in a lack of mobility and, in essence, limited daily activity. This stiffness, according to Traditional Chinese Medicine, is a result of stagnation of the flow of blood to the soft tissues of the joint. However, Acupuncture can be used to induce an increase in local blood flow to the soft tissues. When needles are inserted into the body, the body responds to it by increasing the blood vessel diameter in a process called vasodilatation. This process will cause more blood flow to the localized area to rejuvenate the flexibility of the soft tissues. This increase in flexibility allows the joint to go a wide range, thus an increased range of motion.

Prevention of Osteophytic growth

In disease conditions such as arthritis and trauma to the joints, the blood flow is usually impaired. This impairment limits the access of Parathyroid hormone for osteoclastic activities. This osteoclastic activity results in bone resorption and remodeling. When blood flow is limited, and the osteoclastic activities are shut down, the bone uses excess calcium deposits to reinforce the stressed part of the bone. This reinforcement results in the formation of bone spurs called osteophytes. This Osteophytes, however, doesn’t cause any problem; the problem arises when they start compressing joint tissues.
Acupunctural procedures employ the ability of Needle stimulation to increase blood flow via increasing the blood vessel diameter. It thus increases the amount of Parathyroid hormone, which would move to the joint area to perform the bone resorption and remodeling activities accustomed.

Reduces Joint Swelling

Acupuncture is also indicated in arthritis, especially Rheumatoid arthritis, to manage the joint’s red, swollen, hot deformity. In response to inflammation, the synovium (lining of the joint) becomes attacked, resulting in excessive production of synovial fluid. While this is going on, the inflammatory process sends an inhibitory signal to the lymphatic vessels, which blocks the lymphatic drainage, and thus delaying removal of the excessive synovial fluid. This excessiveness manifests as a swollen capsule of the joint, which is brought physically as a joint deformity.
However, the meridian approach of Acupuncture is believed to have established network throughout the human body. This network is connected with integrative functions of the body, including lymph drainage by the lymphatic system. Stimulation of the appropriate acupressure point will promote lymphatic drainage and ultimately solve the problem of swelling in an arthritic joint.

In conclusion, Acupuncture offers a lot of benefits to people with arthritis. It can set on the physiological functions of the body to bring about healing. This self-healing response of the body tackles the symptoms yielding signs of arthritis that can limit our day to day activities. This includes severe pain, inflammation, reduced joint motion, soft tissue compressing bone spurs, and reduces joint swelling. It can also get rid of toxic chemicals in the body and help produce necessary antioxidants.Also, this form of modality offers no severe side effects as compared to the conventional drugs used in treating arthritis, such as NSAIDs and glucocorticoids. However, it could be unsafe and serve as an infection point if an old needle is used. Because it involves breaking the skin, Acupuncture is contraindicated in some conditions. It should not be used in the area of poor skin condition, pregnancy, diabetic patients, immune-suppression cases, stroke patients, and patients with cancer.

Arthritis Self-Help

Alternative Treatment for Osteoporosis

Statistics have shown that a significant percentage of humans are likely to have bone loss leading to osteoporosis, at one point or the other in their lives. Although most of the treatment drugs for the condition have shown excellent results in patients, there are still ever-increasing numbers of people who want to try and stick to alternative treatment routines. Note that over the years, there have been reported cases where alternative treatment options for osteoporosis, produced remarkable and sustained results.

Although there is still more research going on to see how useful some of the options are, experts are already beginning to see more prospects in natural/non-pharmaceutical composed remedies. This is not to mean, however, that they would necessarily serve as a total replacement for all the drugs already used for treating the condition. While some alternative treatment options may significantly replace the use of some medications, others may help boost the treatment effect of the drug and may be used as complementary options.

Alternative treatment for osteoporosis involves the use of non-synthesized, natural ingredients, and methods for managing or significantly improving the condition in people. The effects of these alternative treatment options include helping to stop or significantly reduce bone loss, as well as providing specific pain relief effects.

Since there is no definite cure for osteoporosis, it is reasonable to compare the treatment and management options, to see which are the most effective with lesser or no side effects. One of the biggest reasons people are beginning to seek alternative treatment options for osteoporosis is the associated side effects of drug remedies. For instance, some of the side effects of commonly used bisphosphonate drugs are becoming of much concern.

Asides an acknowledged significance in osteoporosis treatment, patients seek remedies that also have very less ill consequences, and this is basically what alternative treatment for osteoporosis aims to achieve.
Alternative treatment options and ingredients for osteoporosis
Usually, most of the alternative treatment options are easy to implement and use on your own. However, it is advisable to inform a physician on your intended course of action, so that they can give more useful instructions.

Here are four useful alternative treatment options and ingredients for osteoporosis

Consumption of soy products

Estrogen has been identified to enhance the activity of bone producing body cells known as osteoblasts. In older women, estrogen production is significantly reduced, and this is considered as one of the underlining triggers for osteoporosis in women. Hence, as the reduced production of this hormone takes effect, there seems to be a corresponding decline in bone production.

However, soybeans have been identified as a natural source of Isoflavone components, which produce some similar effects to estrogen- in terms of bone production. This component is quite similar in structure with the regular estrogen. Several expert studies have suggested that increased or consistent addition of soy proteins to a woman’s diet should be implemented at least a few years before menopausal onset. The idea behind this is that the vital marker that helps prevent the condition is built and accumulated in the body over time, and this could help.
Hence, adding soy products to your daily diet can go a long way in improving your bone conditions. Now, while this works for osteoporosis in women, it may also show similar results in men. Asides soybeans, other important Isoflavone-producing foods include lentils, chickpeas, kidney beans, etcetera.

Engaging in exercise routines

Even if you’ve got osteoporosis, this doesn’t mean you cannot engage in some exercise routines. Exercises have a significant way of helping you retain your bone mass, and hence making your bones less brittle. The patient would also be building their muscles in the process, which also acts to shield and protect the bone from easily getting fractured. Exercise in conditions like this also has their way of gradually relieving the individuals of their pain.

Asides these, regular exercise helps the individual build their balance again, and thus reduces their chances of falling when they move about. Since osteoporosis tends to be more pronounced as a person’s age advances, exercise routines are, in fact, essential for people as they grow old. It is one of the most important alternative treatments for osteoporosis.
Before booking your exercise sessions with a coach, however, always remember to consult with a doctor and also let them know how you’re doing. Make sure to find out what exercise types are right for you, and this is what you should stick to.

Black cohosh herb

The ancient black cohosh herb is another alternative treatment that is being explored for managing osteoporosis in persons. Although not so much scientific research has been done to ascertain the therapeutic effect and safeness of this herb, it has been in use for many decades- especially by the native American populace. In 2008, a study group made some findings using rats for the test. It was discovered that the active component in the herb (phytoestrogen) improved bone formation in the rat, over a period of about 48hours.

Studies have shown that estrogen and any other component like it would have some positive effect against osteoporosis. However, not so much is yet known on how effective phytoestrogen is in humans. Another claim supporting the use of this herb as a management option for osteoporosis is that it was also used in treating postmenopausal symptoms associated with reduced estrogen supply.


Acupuncture is not a new term for many people, but you probably did not know it could also have a significant effect on reducing the impact of osteoporosis. This method makes use of contact with strategic points and locations of the human body. If you’re adopting acupuncture as an alternative treatment for osteoporosis, you should see someone who knows how this applies to the healing of the bones.
Additionally, acupuncture may necessarily require the individual to make use of other treatment options together with the method. This is because acupuncture practice is only used mainly as a complementary treatment option for osteoporosis.

Note that although this method is entirely acknowledged by several individuals who have suffered from the conditions, it is one of the alternative techniques still under investigation. However, if you want to try what is natural and is believed to have worked for several hundreds of people, then why not.

Other essential alternative treatment for osteoporosis

Now, there are some basic things that an individual must know when treating osteoporosis. Most times, osteoporosis is caused by insufficient calcium and vitamin D elements in the body. An essential thing to do is adjust your diet to incorporate more calcium and vitamin D producing foods.

Calcium is supposed to be the most abundant element in the human body. They are essential in maintaining bone health, and even its formation. Sometimes, however, a supposed calcium deficiency is an inability of the body to absorb sufficient levels of the element. This is why you also need to take vitamin D rich food as a complement for your calcium-rich foods.

Fortunately, many calcium-rich foods also provide some vitamin D. Hence; you can add more components like spinach, tuna, collards, egg yolk, salmon, orange juice, etcetera to your meals.

On the other hand, to prevent inhibition of vitamin D absorption, patients must avoid using drugs that have shown this tendency. This includes antacid medications, as well as steroids like prednisolone.

Note that the list of alternative treatments for osteoporosis is a little more extensive, although most are still being researched. The condition of osteoporosis varies in individuals, and while it may be less severe in some persons, it could be quite extreme in others. Many times, people who started early on some of these alternative treatment options didn’t have to progress into more severe osteoporosis conditions. But then, even persons who already did had some remarkable improvements as well.