The most common way to manage the symptoms rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is with disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs (DMARDs). While there are no non-medicinal alternative to DMARDs, some holistic therapies can give you relief from joint stiffness, swelling, and pain and sometimes give more relief than the pharmaceuticals.
Holistic Therapies Defined:
Holistic therapies are therapeutic practices used together with conventional medicine. Examples of holistic therapies include meditation, chiropractic medicine, acupuncture, functional holistic medicine, and nutrition.
Research studies have shown that holistic based approaches can be highly effective for RA, and researchers are continuously searching for ways to incorporate these with medicinal therapies.
Here is what you require to know about specific holistic therapies to help you manage your RA symptoms.
Supplements are popular for handling RA pain and inflammation. Two supplements have strong research for being successful in managing RA pain.
1. Fish oil may reduce your requirement for non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs (DMARDs). In many research studies, RA persons received fish oil supplements, in addition to their NSAIDs and DMARDs, were reporting fewer tender joints and less morning stiffness and their blood work likewise showed lower inflammation markers.
2. Low vitamin D and RA seem to go together — there has been proof that low vitamin D causes RA development and worsens symptoms in people who already have the condition. Supplementing with Vit D and monitoring your vitamin D levels every 6 months can be an advantage to those struggling with RA symptoms.
3. Tumeric, along with other herbs and spices such as ginger, green tea, and thyme, has proven to reduce inflammation and increase antioxidants. Tumeric benefits specifically come from the curcuminoid compounds found in the Curcuma longa plant, which tumeric derives. Tumeric can be used in a supplement form or spiced in drinks and food to ease the symptoms of RA.
Chiropractic approaches involve the manipulation of specific areas of the body to address biomechanical imbalances of the joints and soft tissues, and neurological impedance in the nervous system. Other practices focused on physiological function and neurological function consist of acupuncture, therapeutic massage, and electromagnetic therapy.
Acupuncture is an ancient practice where thin needles are placed in the skin at specific points in the body to promote energy flow.
A research study found that RA persons were showing improvement in morning stiffness after 10 weeks of acupuncture therapies. Nevertheless, the results were mixed for improvements in inflammation or joint swelling. Forty-two adults with RA were randomly assigned light pressure or moderate pressure massage therapy. The therapists massaged affected shoulders and arms for 4 weeks and taught the participants self-massage.
The study participants reported relief from stiffness and pain, stronger grip, and a greater range of motion from the moderate-pressure massage and daily self-massage. Participants given the light pressure massage showed improvements in stiffness and pain only.
Electromagnetic therapy uses magnets to manage pain, inflammation, and a variety of other health conditions.
Mind-body practices can help you address RA pain, stress, and sleep issues.
Mediation is the practice of focused awareness, where you intentionally focus your attention and keep that attention. The main goal is mindfulness — a state of awareness.
Mindfulness promotes relaxation to lower pain, supports healthy habits, and increases spiritual insight. The capability to relax your body might result in fewer inflammatory hormones, which equals less joint pain.
Other mind-body practices you can try are tai chi, yoga, spiritual belief, and hypnosis. All of these practices can help you handle your emotional, mental, social, and behavioral struggles of living with RA.
Those struggling with any joint pain can benefit from consistent exercise. Regular body movement can help mitigate the symptoms of RA. Exercise can help ease joint pain and stiffness, make you more flexible, boost your muscle endurance, provide you energy, and improve your sleep.
Your exercise program should include a range of motion exercises, strength training, and aerobic exercises. Finding a good trainer, or physical therapist can be of great benefit to show you what movements and exercise would benefit you the most.
Range of motion exercises, generally part of physical therapy, address specific joints and help if you have been inactive in the past, have restricted joint and muscle motion and if you are recovering from joint surgery.
Strength training can assist in improving muscle strength and function. Strong muscles provide better joint support and minimize stress on your joints.
Aerobic exercises improves heart, lung, and muscle function, and helps with weight control, sleep, and mood. Safe aerobic exercises you can attempt include walking, dance, swimming, biking, or using exercise equipment, such as treadmills and stationary bikes.
Your day-to-day tasks and leisure activities can count towards aerobic exercises if carried out at moderate strength levels. Examples are playing golf, walking the dog, or doing yard work.
The connection between diet and RA is quite complicated, but diet does influence RA symptoms. A diet consisting of anti-inflammatory foods can reduce your symptoms, whereas a diet filled with junk and processed foods can promote inflammation and worsen the pain.
Gluten-free, anti-inflammatory, and Mediterranean diets help many of those struggling with joint pain whether it’s from osteoarthritis or rhumatoid arthritis.
Gluten is found in grains like wheat, barley, and rye. It is possible your joint pain, stiffness, and swelling is related to gluten sensitivity, and eliminating these foods often times improve symptoms. Genetic and other testing can be done to identify an individual’s inflammatory response to gluten.
An anti-inflammatory diet promotes certain foods that are known to decrease inflammation, including more plant-based foods, such as fruits, vegetables, plant based fats, and certain herbs.
The Mediterranean diet is high in foods considered anti-inflammatory. Like the anti-inflammatory diet, it includes mainly fruits and vegetables, and plant based fats like extra-virgin olive oil and fatty fish.
There is plenty of scientific evidence to support that specific foods help reduce the inflammation and symptoms of RA. Individuals can even get testing to see how specific foods will benefit them based on their unique genetic blueprint and their bodie’s biological response to certain foods.