If you’re not keen on medications for osteoarthritis, or they aren’t effective and you aren’t keen on surgery, you may wish to explore holistic alternatives.
In a survey conducted for Arthritis Today, the most recommended therapies for arthritis pain were glucosamine, capsaicin, acupuncture, tai chi, biofeedback, yoga, and mental health-enhancing modalities such as spirituality, journal writing and meditation.
Glucosamine: This is a supplement that is extracted from shell fish. There is a vegetarian version of glucosamine for those on restricted diets or those allergic to shell fish. Glucosamine is a naturally occurring substance in the body that is used for the formation, maintenance and repair of cartilage. A study published in the Lancet gave 212 osteoarthritis sufferers either 1,500mgs of glucosamine daily or a placebo over three years. They found that the patients taking glucosamine had no significant joint space loss – their joints had not gotten worse over the three years, whereas the patients taking the placebo had progressively worsening joints.
"The 106 patients on placebo had a progressive joint-space narrowing, with a mean joint-space loss after 3 years. There was no significant joint-space loss in the other 106 patients on glucosamine sulphate: Similar results were reported with minimum joint-space narrowing. Symptoms worsened slightly in patients on placebo compared with the improvement observed after treatment with glucosamine sulphate. The long-term combined structure-modifying and symptom-modifying effects of glucosamine sulphate suggest that it could be a disease modifying agent in osteoarthritis."
Capsaicin: This is an extract of chilli peppers. It is very hot and potent and is used as a treatment for arthritic pains. It is available in a topically applied cream and works by decreasing pain signals. When you first apply it, you may feel a burning sensation, but this should stop after first use. One of three clinical trials for osteoarthritis showed a significant benefit for osteoarthritis patients using capsaicin.