Last week we shared with you an excerpt from a 44-page report by Harvard Medical School on osteoarthritis of the hand. You can read it here.
This week, we want to finish up with some offbeat treatments of hand arthritis discussed by Harvard.
The entire publication which covers The Healthy Hand, Arthritis of the Hand, Tendon Trouble, Exercise for the Hand, Carpal Tunnel Syndrome and other Tunnel Syndromes, Traumatic Hand and Wrist injuries as well as handy gadgets for sufferers to use. This pretty much qualifies as everything you ever wanted to know about the hand, but were afraid to ask. Harvard Medical School offers special reports on over 50 health topics. You can order the complete Hands report here.
Following is an excerpt from the report: Many people with chronic, painful conditions like arthritis who don’t get complete relief from conventional therapies turn to alternative treatments. As with any therapy, some people find that certain treatments work well for them, while others find little or no benefit. Talk with your physician to decide which approaches might work best for you, and consult a licensed, certified practitioner for specific treatment and guidance.
The discussion below does not constitute an endorsement of any of these treatments.
Yoga. One small study of people with hand osteoarthritis found that yoga helped decrease pain and tenderness and increased finger mobility. Several types of yoga classes are available in most communities; be sure to choose one with a gentle style, ideally taught by an instructor familiar with therapeutic uses of yoga.
Acupuncture and acupressure. These ancient Chinese therapies have become popular for treating pain-related conditions, and some studies have shown acupuncture to be effective for some forms of pain. However, there are no specific studies demonstrating the effectiveness of acupuncture for treating hand pain.
Dietary supplements. A number of vitamins, minerals, and other substances are sold as remedies for arthritis. Because these products are classified as dietary supplements, they are not scrutinized for effectiveness and purity by the FDA. The following list, from the National Center for Alternative and Complementary Medicine, includes substances that have been tested for various forms of arthritis, with any known benefits, risks, and side effects:
• Cat’s claw. Liquid extracts of this woody vine show some possible benefit in osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. Rare side effects include nausea and vomiting.
• Chinese thunder god vine. One large study that com- pared thunder god vine root extract with a conventional medicine (sulfasalazine) for rheumatoid arthritis found that the participants’ symptoms (such as joint pain and swelling) improved more with thunder god vine than with sulfasalazine. But side effects such as indigestion and diarrhea were fairly common among those taking the extract. And there are no consistent, high-quality thunder god vine products currently being made in the United States.
• Glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate. Findings from a large, long-term study revealed no benefit for treating pain from knee osteoarthritis. Mild side effects include nausea and other gastrointestinal problems.
• Evening primrose oil. Extracted from the seeds of evening primrose flowers, this oil may be useful for rheumatoid arthritis. Mild gastrointestinal problems are a possible side effect.
• Omega-3 fatty acids. Some evidence suggests these fatty acids, found in fish oil, help curb inflammation in rheumatoid arthritis. Mild side effects include belching, bad breath, and other minor gastrointestinal problems.
As a sufferer of hand arthritis, I would like to share my own experience with two alternative methods. The first was the Glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate. I get no benefits from several varieties of this. On the other hand, I had a better experience I would like to relate.
Briefly, I take colloidal trace minerals for my arthritis. I had worn an acrylic splint on my hand for over three years. After taking the trace minerals for around a month, the pain had subsided and I was able to retire the splint. You can read the blog entry on my experience here.