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Arthritis Treatments

Arthritis can cause a great deal of pain and disruption in our lives. The good news is that there are many methods of treatment which have been proven to help alleviate that pain. Browse  to learn more.

  • Osteoarthritis + Chiropractic “Giles and Muller compared the outcomes of acupuncture, medication, and spinal manipulation on spinal pain syndromes. Only spinal manipulation led to significant improvement. Rao et al. reported that 73% of the patients who sought pain relief treatment from both a rheumatologist and an alternative form of medicine found chiropractic care to be helpful. It may be reasonably concluded that chiropractic care is a successful treatment for lower back pain.” 1
    The study found significant improvements in the patients who were given the chiropractic/moist heat treatments, as illustrated by the following graph that shows average extension of the spine measured at each evaluation point:
    Chiropractic helpful for osteoarthritis
    Here is a summary of the other findings:

    • Chiropractic was significantly more effective in reducing pain than moist heat alone, even though both treatments reduced pain to some degree.
    • The study examined right and left lateral flexion, average flexion, and average extension. “Chiropractic care plus moist heat is more effective than moist heat alone for improving ROM, as measured by these particular tests.”
    • Chiropractic care was also more effective in improving daily activities, while moist heat alone did not improve ADL.

1.Beyerman KL, Palmerino MB, Zohn LE, Kane GM, Foster KA. Efficacy of treating low back pain and dysfunction secondary to osteoarthritis: chiropractic care compared with moist heat alone. Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics 2006;29:107-114.

  • Complementary Therapies for Arthritis Pain. In the last five years, awareness and use of complementary and alternative therapies has skyrocketed among both patients and practitioners. This study evaluated the use of such therapies in a sample of rheumatological conditions. The conditions included were osteoarthrits, rheumatoid arthritis, and fibromyalgia. The authors state that these conditions are ideal for evaluating complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) since they are, “prevalent, have no known cause or cure, are characterized by chronic pain and a variable disease course, and often adversely affect functional status.”

    The study consisted a survey that asked 232 patients (who were receiving medical care) about the prevalence and types of CAM use, their motivations for use, its overall effectiveness, and the level of communication about this use with their physician. Keep in mind that the authors define CAM as, “Any intervention not usually prescribed by physicians (for example, herbal remedies, chiropractic manipulations, high-dose vitamins, and elimination diets).” Exercise programs or relaxation techniques were not included in this definition, since they are often prescribed for pain management.

    63% of patients had or currently used CAM. 82 currently used them, and 64 had in the past. The table below delineates the number of patients who used a specific therapy, and their perceived level of effectiveness.

Type of Treatment

Number of patients

% who found it helpful




Herbal Therapies



Special Diets






Spiritual Healing



Diet Supplements



Copper bracelets or magnets



Other treatments



Reasons given for using CAM were to help their condition, and get control of the pain. Interestingly, patients in the sample frequently reported that the use of CAM was for, “symptom relief rather than as a cure for their condition.” So it is not surprising that patients who had severe pain, had a longer disease duration, and a diagnosis of osteoarthritis were most likely and frequent users of CAM.

Nearly half (45%) of the patients discussed their CAM use with physicians. 92% thought their doctors should know everything about their treatment, and 67% thought their doctors would provide information about potential interactions between the two types of treatment. 71% of the patients’ doctors supported their use, and only 15% feared disapproval from the physician.
The authors suggest that future studies, using different samples, should investigate CAM use so medical providers could have a better idea of the patients’ perspective. More importantly, the authors suggest that:

“Future studies should describe the natural history of CAM use and its effect on patient-centered outcomes, such as health status, satisfaction with care, and use of health care resources. Such investigations will complement rigorous efficacy trials of CAM and provide a complete picture to health care providers, policymakers, and patients.”

Rao J, Mihaliak K, Kroenke K, et al. Use of complementary therapies for arthritis among patients for rheumatologist. Annals of Internal Medicine 1999;131:409-416.