November 07, 2012
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RA, OA patients used alternative, complementary therapies

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Almost 25% of patients with rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis used complementary and alternative therapies in combination with conventional medications, according to study results.

The study was prompted by “the increasing advertisement of the efficacy of alternative medicines,” researcher Nada Alaaeddine, PhD, head of the regenerative and inflammation lab in the faculty of medicine, University of St. Joseph in Beirut, Lebanon, told Healio.com.

Nada Alaaeddine 

Nada Alaaeddine

Researchers conducted questionnaire-based interviews with 250 adults (aged 20 to 90 years; 72.4% women) with rheumatoid arthritis (RA; n=168) or osteoarthritis (OA; n=82). Demographic and clinical information, use of conventional therapies and complementary and alternative therapies (CAT), and disease status before and after CAT were included.

CAT and conventional therapies were used by 58 (23.2%) patients (34 RA, 24 OA; 41 women). Herbal therapies were the most commonly used CAT (82.8%), followed by exercise (22.4%) and massage (12.1%). Of the patients who used CAT, 63.8% believed it was beneficial. Pain intensity, sleeping pattern and level of activities as measures of disease status improved after using CAT (P=.01). Because of potential concomitant drug-CAT side effects, 24.1% of patients who used herbal therapy sought medical care; reactions were not serious, and they were reversible.

“Although CAT might have beneficial effects in rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis, patients should be cautious about their use and should tell their health care providers that they are using them to make sure they don’t conflict with their existing treatment,” the researchers said in a press release.