National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases
How Is Osteoarthritis Treated? continued...
Complementary and alternative therapies
When conventional medical treatment doesn’t provide sufficient
pain relief, people are more likely to try complementary and alternative
therapies. The following are some alternative therapies used to treat
Acupuncture: Some people have found pain
relief using acupuncture, a practice in which fine needles are inserted by a
licensed acupuncture therapist at specific points on the skin. Preliminary
research shows that acupuncture may be a useful component in an osteoarthritis
treatment plan for some patients. Scientists think the needles stimulate the
release of natural, pain-relieving chemicals produced by the nervous
Folk remedies: These include wearing copper
bracelets, drinking herbal teas, taking mud baths, and rubbing WD-40 on joints
to “lubricate” them. While these practices may or may not be harmful, no
scientific research to date shows that they are helpful in treating
osteoarthritis. They can also be expensive, and using them may cause people to
delay or even abandon useful medical treatment.
Nutritional supplements: Nutrients such as
glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate have been reported to improve the symptoms
of people with osteoarthritis, as have certain vitamins. Additional studies
have been carried out to further evaluate these claims. (See Current
Who Treats Osteoarthritis?
Treating arthritis often requires a multidisciplinary or team
approach. Many types of health professionals care for people with arthritis.
You may choose a few or more of the following professionals to be part of your
health care team:
Primary care physicians: doctors who treat
patients before they are referred to other specialists in the health care
Rheumatologists: doctors who specialize in
treating arthritis and related conditions that affect joints, muscles, and
Orthopaedists: surgeons who specialize in the
treatment of, and surgery for, bone and joint diseases.
Physical therapists: health professionals who
work with patients to improve joint function.
Occupational therapists: health professionals
who teach ways to protect joints, minimize pain, perform activities of daily
living, and conserve energy.
Dietitians: health professionals who teach
ways to use a good diet to improve health and maintain a healthy weight.
Nurse educators: nurses who specialize in
helping patients understand their overall condition and implement their