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Natural Treatments for Rheumatoid Arthritis

Looking for some natural treatments for rheumatoid arthritis, or RA? Natural therapies are popular today as people seek to control their health and healing. For those with RA, alternative techniques may let you have greater control of your pain and activities.

What Are Some Natural Treatments for Rheumatoid Arthritis?

According to the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM), natural treatments for rheumatoid arthritis range from moist heat and magnets to acupuncture and natural supplements.

Although some of these natural treatments may help RA, none of these therapies is fully grounded in science and many have not been completely tested for side effects. Talk to your doctor before you use any unprescribed remedy.

How Are Heat and Cold Used for Rheumatoid Arthritis?

Many doctors recommend heat and/or cold treatments to reduce rheumatoid arthritis symptoms.

Cold compresses reduce joint swelling and inflammation. You can apply a cool compress or ice pack to the affected joint during an RA flare-up to help ease inflammation and pain.

You don't want to overdo cold treatments. Apply the cold compress for 15 minutes at a time with at least a 30-minute break in between treatments.

Heat compresses relax your muscles and stimulate blood flow.

To use heat therapy, you can try a moist heating pad or a warm, damp towel. Many people like using microwaveable hot packs. Don't go too hot. Your skin should not burn.

You can also use heat therapy by standing in the shower. Letting the warm water hit the painful area on your body may help ease pain.

A hot tub is a good way to relax stiff muscles -- and it's enjoyable. (Caution: Avoid hot tubs or spas if you have high blood pressure, heart disease, or are pregnant.) 

Can Magnets Improve Rheumatoid Arthritis Symptoms?

Magnets are commonly said to be a helpful alternative therapy for rheumatoid arthritis pain control. Found at most natural food stores, magnet therapies come in a variety of forms, such as bracelets, necklaces, inserts, pads, or disks.

Most research on magnets has been done in people with osteoarthritis, the wear-and-tear type of arthritis associated with aging.

In people with knee and hip osteoarthritis, some preliminary studies have shown that magnets improved joint pain better than a placebo. Doctors do not understand exactly how magnets might relieve pain. It's also unclear if magnets might also help those with rheumatoid arthritis.

What About Mind/Body Therapies for Rheumatoid Arthritis?

Many studies have reviewed the use of mind/body therapies for rheumatoid arthritis pain. Mind/body therapies may be helpful when added to conventional treatments.

Mind/body therapies may help with stress management. They can help improve sleep and pain perception.

Deep abdominal breathing: Taking deep, slow breaths from the abdomen (not the chest) can help alter your emotional state. Deep breathing can make a stressful moment lessen in intensity. It can decrease the production of stress hormones and slow the heart beat during stressful times.

WebMD Medical Reference

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