Montefiore New Rochelle Department of Orthopaedic Surgery

Resources: Alternative Treatments for Arthritis

If you’ve been diagnosed with arthritis; what comes next? Most of our patients tell us that research was the next, critical step; most hopped on the internet for information on both traditional and alternative medicine treatments.
It’s a great first step; communication and knowledge are integral to success in treating your arthritis. But all information is not created equal—especially when it comes to alternative medicine, a term used to describe treatments that are outside the scope of traditional or established medical science.

Do your homework and talk to your Joint Solutions physician before adopting any of these options. Here’s information to get you started:

The most promising alternative remedies for arthritis include:

  • Acupuncture: This procedure originated in China over 2,000 years ago and has been used for centuries to treat many conditions and ailments. Studies on the effectiveness of acupuncture for various conditions are unclear, but recent results indicate that it can be somewhat effective for arthritis of the knee. The key is to use a licensed acupuncture practitioner.
  • Hyaluronic Acid Injections (viscosupplementation): Hyaluronic acid naturally occurs in the body. It is injected into the joint to lubricate and cushion the joint and surrounding tissues. It also assists with the way that the body responds to injury.

Alternative Treatments with Less Proven Results

  • Glucosamine Sulfate: Glucosamine, involved in the creation of molecules that form cartilage, is a compound that is naturally made in humans. It is believed that the sulfate portion may help strengthen cartilage. Many swear by this supplement, and most medical experts agree that it is relatively safe. However, recent studies have shown that it has little to no benefit to arthritis suffers.
  • Chondroitin Sulfate:  This is often combined with glucosamine, but is not as well studied. It is promoted as having some benefit to the synovial fluid, which lubricates the cartilage. This has not, however, been proven.  Although it is considered relatively safe, as with all supplements, you should still inform your doctor if you plan on taking glucosamine, as it may affect blood glucose metabolism and interact with such blood thinners as Coumadin® (warfarin).
  • Shark Cartilage: For many years, it was thought that taking shark cartilage could cure arthritis. That has since been proven to be false.
  • SAM-e is the abbreviated name for S-adenosylmethionine. This supplement has been analyzed as an antidepressant as well as a possible treatment for osteoarthritis. Some studies have shown SAM-e to have some benefit in reducing pain and inflammation, others are inconclusive.
  • Magnets: Magnets are often sold in bracelets, shoes, wraps, even blankets and mattresses, for the treatment of arthritis pain. Studies are inconclusive on how well magnets work for arthritis—some say they do, while others disagree. It should be noted that magnets are quite expensive, and should not be used by those who have a pacemaker or other implanted medical devices, such as insulin pumps.

We’re Here For You

At every stage of the process, communication and knowledge are integral to your recovery. Please don’t hesitate to contact us with any questions at 914-365-3981.

We look forward to hearing from you.