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Natural Treatments for Rheumatoid Arthritis

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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.

Progressive muscle relaxation: Concentrating on different muscle groups, contract, then relax, all of the major muscle groups in the body. Start with your head, neck, and arms. Then contract and relax your chest, back, and stomach. Finish by doing your pelvis, legs, and feet.

Along with muscle relaxation, use deep breathing. Breathe in while tensing the muscles. Breathe out or exhale while relaxing the muscles.

Visualization: Visualization can help reduce stress and pain. With this exercise, you close your eyes, breathe deeply, and imagine that you're in a quiet, peaceful place. Using visualization during stressful times can be soothing and refreshing.

Meditation: Meditation brings about relaxation and stress reduction. It can slow the heart rate and breathing, and help with pain perception. Those who practice meditation tell of having decreased anxiety and depression. They also report increased concentration and resilience.

Tai chi: Studies are being done on tai chi for pain reduction. The movements of tai chi are gentle and graceful, making the practice safe for people with arthritis. Tai chi can also help increase range of motion and joint strength. Some people believe that tai chi has a spiritual component, because it encourages the mind to focus away from pain.

Acupuncture: With acupuncture, the practitioner uses stainless steel needles to stimulate the major pathways -- called "meridians" -- in the body. The goal is to stimulate various points targeted at specific areas of the body. Traditional Chinese medicine practitioners believe acupuncture can heal imbalances of energy, or "qi." The practitioner tries to restore balance to the sick body and boost the immune system. It's believed good health happens when qi flows unrestricted throughout the body.

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