Medication is the most effective and widely used treatment for rheumatoid arthritis (RA), and is capable of slowing down the disease’s progression and managing symptoms, the Arthritis Foundation says. However, many individuals who live with RA have also found relief from complementary therapies such as acupuncture and massage therapy when included in their overall RA management strategy.
The Arthritis Foundation also states that these complementary therapies might help in reducing inflammation, which is the number one culprit for RA pain, and improve your overall quality of life. If you are considering adding such therapies to your overall RA management plan, consider the following therapies:
Acupuncture for Rheumatoid Arthritis
Acupuncture is a vital component of traditional Chinese medicine and involves the insertion of fine needles into the skin for stimulating specific areas or energy points in the body. While acupuncture can’t do anything to prevent joint damage or slow the advancement of RA, it could help in alleviating pain from rheumatoid arthritis, explains a licensed acupuncturist in Seattle.
A study published in 2018 in the Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine journal found that combined with various RA treatments or by itself, acupuncture could be very effective in reducing pain and inflammation without adverse effects, and could improve quality of life and overall function.
Massage for Rheumatoid Arthritis
Some studies and anecdotal reports show that massage therapy could help ease RA pain. For example, a study published in the American Journal of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation last 2017 found that massage therapy might improve overall function and reduce pain in individuals with rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis.
Generally speaking, massage is perfectly safe for RA patients, but you do need to thoroughly discuss your circumstances with the therapist prior to the session, specifically which body parts are more painful and need less or more attention based on your pain tolerance.
This is because massage therapy is essentially focused on reducing muscle pain, but rheumatoid arthritis affects your joints. A competent massage therapist will know when to take it easy and when to be aggressive without causing you more pain.
Biofeedback for Rheumatoid Arthritis
Biofeedback therapy involves an electronic machine that could help you stimulate and connect more with specific functions of the body that are usually automatic. It also involves teaching you relaxation strategies to help you manage your body’s typical pain responses.
Omega-3s for Rheumatoid Arthritis
The Arthritis Foundation recommends fish oil, specifically omega-3 fatty acids, as an excellent complementary treatment for rheumatoid arthritis since omega-3s fight inflammation in the body.
Besides supplementation, you could likewise consider including more broiled, steamed or baked omega-3-packed fish into your meals. According to studies, individuals with RA who consume fish at least three times a week had reduced RA symptoms than those who don’t consume the same amount of fish each week.
So if you are planning on incorporating a complementary therapy to your current rheumatoid arthritis treatment plan, consider the suggested therapies above. While they’re not intended to replace your RA medications and other current treatments, they can certainly address your pain and boost the overall effects of your RA treatment strategy.