What are conventional medical treatments for arthritis?
There is no cure for arthritis. The types of treatment depend on the type of arthritis. They include physical therapy, exercising more (often with weights), orthopedic bracing and medications. In some severe cases surgery may be required to replace eroded joints. For inflammatory types of arthritis, medications are mainly prescribed to help reduce the inflammation in the joint, as this is often responsible for the pain. Decreasing inflammation also helps slow damage to the joint damage.
There are a variety of medications that are prescribed. They include analgesics (if there is pain but no inflammation), anti-inflammatory pain reliever drugs, corticosteroids, chemotherapy drugs, biologic therapy, disease modifying treatments, or narcotic pain relievers. As with all medications there can be nasty side effects.
Sometimes it can be helpful to lose weight in order to reduce the stress on weight-bearing joints.
What are alternative treatments for arthritis?
Some find acupuncture helps relieve the pain. There is some evidence that glucosamine sulfate is beneficial, but glucosamine hydrochloride is not. Research seems to show that chondroitin sulfate slows arthritis progression, but it doesn't seem help with the symptoms of the disease.
Some have found capsaicin cream can relieve their osteoarthritis pain. Others find purification regimes (e.g. with castor oil) help reduce their arthritis. Some find that chiropractic treatments can help with the muscle spasms that sometimes accompany the disease.
Of course, essential oils traditionally have also been used for arthritis. For more information, see the Useful Essential Oils tab.