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Do alternative therapies have a role in treating osteoarthritis?

Life is so limiting when someone gets diagnosed with osteoarthritis. They can find that their access to life and the world at large shrinks alarmingly fast as their mobility declines. Tired of taking pain medications that muddle their minds, many sufferers wonder if there are any other safer options?

Some may turn to alternative therapies that are outside of most prescribed treatments for osteoarthritis. Is this wise — or even safe?

Some alternative therapies may bring some relief

Practitioners of western medicine who used to thumb their noses at alternative therapies to bring their patients relief are now recanting their reluctance to investigate more fully the efficacy of some of these treatment options. Below are some that doctors at the Mayo Clinic conclude may offer relief to some patients.

Acupuncture

This nontraditional treatment has been particularly efficacious in those suffering from osteoarthritis of the knees. At the least, it causes no additional harm and could indeed be worth a try. 

Nutritional supplements

Some patients have reported finding help by taking the supplements chondroitin and glucosamine despite a mixed bag of research findings regarding these two nutritional supplements. Part of the relief could be simply the placebo effect at work, however. These two supplements can have adverse reactions in patients taking certain blood thinners, so be very careful and ask a doctor’s approval before trying any supplements to ease your pain.

Omega-3 fatty acids and avocado-soybean unsaponifiables are other supplements that have been successfully used in Europe as treatments for both knee and hip osteoarthritis due to their anti-inflammatory effects that may slow or potentially prevent joint damage. 

When relief cannot be found

At some point, these alternative treatments and even doctors’ medications may cease offering you any relief. If you are no longer able to work and complete your activities of daily life (ADL), you might need to look into the possibility of filing for disability benefits.