Highlights of Complementary Healthcare Approaches to Osteoarthritis

August 11, 2020   |   Evidence in Integrative Healthcare

Osteoarthritis is the most common type of arthritis and most commonly occurs in the hands, knees, hips, and spine.  According to the National Institutes of Health’s National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH), there are a number of complementary healthcare approaches that have been evaluated for effectiveness with osteoarthritis symptoms.  Following are the highlights but there is more information available at https://www.nccih.nih.gov/health/osteoarthritis-in-depth?nav=govd:

  • Natural Products:
    • Glucosamine and chondroitin have been studied extensively and it’s still uncertain whether they help with symptoms or joint structures in a meaningful way.
    • Others such as dimethyl sulfoxide (DMSO), methylsulfonylmethane (MSM), and S-adenosyl-L-methionine, the research is too limited to draw conclusions.
    • Safety: natural products can have side effects or interact with drugs.
  • Mind and Body Practices:
    • Tai chi may help with pain, stiffness, and joint function with knee osteoarthritis. Qi gong may have similar benefits but there is less research supporting it.
    • Acupuncture and massage therapy may help with osteoarthritis pain.
    • Safety: mind and body practices are generally considered safe when used and performed correctly; however, some adaptations may be required for certain individuals with osteoarthritis.

It is recommended to consult with your licensed healthcare provider when considering natural products or mind and body practices for any condition.