More than 60 percent of the estimated 46.4 million adults in the United States with arthritis are women. Women are more likely to report high levels of arthritis pain than men, more likely to be hospitalized for arthritis-related causes than men and more likely to cite arthritis as a cause of depression than men, reports the Arthritis Foundation. A combination of medication and natural treatments may be the best way for some women to manage their condition. Discuss your options with your physician.
A variety of natural remedies may provide relief for some arthritis pain, but results can vary significantly from person to person. Mind-body therapies, such as meditation, biofeedback, relaxation and tai chi, may provide non-invasive relief for some people with arthritis. Dietary supplements, such as fish oil, SAMe, vitamin D3 or boswellia, may relieve arthritis pain for some people. Other natural treatments, such as acupuncture, may also have benefits.
Mind-body therapies are among the most common natural treatments for arthritis, but their biggest benefit is helping people cope with arthritis pain, not making the pain go away, so they are best used in conjunction with conventional medical treatments. Dietary supplements show promise for treating some types of arthritis, but more research is needed to understand their effects, side effects and potential interactions fully. Relatively little research has been conducted on alternative therapies like acupuncture — using needles to trigger specific pressure points — or balneotherapy — warm water treatment — but these treatments don’t seem to cause harm for people with arthritis, and may offer some relief from arthritis pain.
If you decide to try natural treatments, talk with your doctor about the best method and frequency. If you’re using mind-body techniques, it’s usually safe to practice them as often as you like. If you’re taking supplements, the best mix depends on what type of arthritis you have. If you have osteoarthritis, try a mix of glucosamine sulfate, SAMe, vitamin D3 and fish oil. For rheumatoid arthritis, ginger, flaxseed, fish oil and SAMe make a good mix. Monthly acupuncture treatments for women with arthritis and increasing treatments to two to four times a week during flares might be helpful.
No natural treatment will make arthritis disappear. While taking supplements or practicing meditation may help, the best arthritis treatment involves a whole-life approach that includes a healthy diet, regular exercise and stress management.
Never substitute natural remedies for medication without your doctor’s consent, and never add natural remedies to your regimen without consulting your rheumatologist. Even natural treatments can have strong effects and may interfere with the actions of your regular arthritis medications.