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Are There Natural Treatments for RA?

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What About Mind/Body Therapies? continued...

Progressive muscle relaxation: To do this, tighten and then relax the muscles in different parts of your body. You can work your way down the body, starting with your face muscles, followed by your neck, arms, chest, back, belly, legs, and feet. Or work your way up from your feet. Breathe in as you contract your muscles. Breathe out when you let go.

Visualization: This can help reduce stress and pain. With this exercise, you close your eyes, breathe deeply, and picture yourself in a quiet, peaceful place.

Meditation: This technique can be as simple as focusing on your breathing and just noticing each inhale and exhale. It doesn’t require any spiritual beliefs, and it’s not about being super-calm. Anyone can do it, and only a few minutes can make a difference. Your mind will almost certainly wander. That’s OK. Just return your attention to your breath, or whatever else you choose to focus on.

Tai chi: This slow, gentle martial art is easy on your joints. It can help with flexibility and strength, too.  

Acupuncture: This traditional form of Chinese medicine uses super-fine needles to stimulate energy pathways called "meridians" in the body to correct imbalances of energy, or "qi."

There’s not a lot of research specific to RA. But studies do show that acupuncture helps with pain, especially back pain. It may also help with osteoarthritis.

Biofeedback: This technique helps you learn to control automatic responses such as heart rate and blood pressure. You do this with sensors on your body, which send information to a monitor. A therapist teaches you how to control your reaction to stresses. There isn’t enough research to know if it works to curb RA pain, but it may be something to try.

Are There Safe Supplements for Rheumatoid Arthritis?

A few RA studies show some benefit for certain supplements and natural remedies. But the research is still in its early stages, so the bottom line isn’t clear yet.

Keep in mind that supplements can affect other medications. Tell your doctor about anything you take, even if it’s natural, so he can check that it’s safe for you.

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