When you find out you have rheumatoid arthritis, you’d like to think that there are treatments and therapies that can help you manage your condition above and beyond standard care.
This is likely the case: Studies have shown that there are several complementary and alternative therapies that can be effective in the treatment of RA—including tai chi, yoga, supplements, or a specialized diet.
However, it’s important to remember that these therapies should not be pursued as a replacement for medications and standard care. Established and proven therapies such as DMARDs and biologics are essential to controlling the disease action of RA and preventing long-term joint damage.
Talk with your doctor first
If you’re interested in incorporating some alternative therapies into your RA treatment plan, the first step is to talk with your doctor or rheumatologist. This can help make sure you choose the safest and most effective alternative therapy to complement your regular treatment.
Here are some talking points for you and your doctor during this discussion:
- Define your goals. What do you hope to accomplish with the use of alternative therapy? Do you want to decrease a symptom like pain or stiffness? Discuss specific goals and/or symptoms you want to target.
- Find the right providers. Does the alternative therapy you’re interested in involve other caregivers? Make sure you know how to find a licensed yoga instructor or qualified nutritionist.
- Discuss possible risks or interactions. For example, some supplements can interfere with the effectiveness of medications like DMARDs and biologics.
- Set a timeline. Talk about how long you should pursue a particular treatment in order to see if it’s effective for you.
Alternative therapies can be a great way to augment your regular treatment for rheumatoid arthritis, but like any health care decision it’s important to understand the potential effects and make an informed decision.