Complementary Therapies that can help Arthritis sufferers
As their name suggests, these types of therapies are designed to complement and work alongside conventional medicine and treatments – not replace them. They concentrate on treating the whole person. Even if your usual drug treatment is working well, you may be curious to know why many people living with arthritis are choosing to explore therapies like acupuncture, aromatherapy, reflexology and massage, and want to know whether you could benefit too.
The wide choice of complementary therapies can be bewildering, but they all have a common goal: to treat the person, not the condition itself.
Like conventional medicine complementary therapies cannot offer a cure for arthritis. Unlike conventional medicine, there is very little scientific evidence to support their benefits. However, many people claim they can help alleviate symptoms such as pain and stiffness, as well as counteract some of the unwanted side effects of drugs.
Popular forms for people with arthritis include:
The roots of acupuncture lie in traditional Chinese medicine where it has been practised for thousands of years. It works on the theory that health is determined by the flow of internal energy (chi) through the body. By inserting fine needles at these special points, imbalances in the flow of energy can be corrected.
The Alexander technique concentrates on how we use our bodies in everyday life and teaches people new ways of using the body to improve balance, co-ordination and awareness. By learning to stand and move correctly, people can ease stresses on their body and alleviate conditions that are made worse by poor posture.
Chiropractic is one of the complementary therapies which has gained a lot of respect from the medical community. It aims to improve mobility and relieve pain by focusing on mechanical problems in the joints – especially the spine. Chiropractors use their hands to adjust the joints in the spine and other parts of the body where movement is restricted. While they cannot reverse the damage in joints affected by arthritis, chiropractors claim that this regular adjustment can keep joints healthier and more mobile, while also reducing pain and slowing down further damage.
We use massage instinctively to ‘rub something better’ or soothe and calm someone in distress. As a therapy it can loosen stiff muscles by using gentle, soothing and kneading movements, and improve the tone of slack muscles using firmer, faster movements. Massage can also increase the flow of blood and lymph through the body and ease tension. On a psychological level, a good massage leaves you feeling relaxed and cared for.
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Reflexologists believe that stimulating the reflex points in the feet can help remove energy blocks, relieving stress and allowing the body to heal itself. The therapy is built on the principle that pressure applied to one part of the body can relieve pain in other parts. Practitioners apply a pressing movement using their finger or thumb.
Yoga is a way of promoting flexibility and strength in mind and body. It can improve posture, muscle tone and mobility. It can also help relaxation. Yoga positions have evolved over thousands of years as a way of stretching and readjusting the balance of the spine (the structural and nervous centre of the body). Asanas (positions) move the body in many different directions and this, together with special yoga breathing, stimulates muscles and joints, circulation, digestion and the nervous and endocrine systems.
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Source: Arthitis Ireland