Does anybody have ideas about natural treatments that work?

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SallyAiano
SallyAiano Member Posts: 3
edited 4. Aug 2015, 07:58 in Living with Arthritis archive
Hello All,

I have osteoarthritis in my facet joints, my GP has prescribed me NSAIDS, naproxen to be precise and have been on codeine when it's got really bad but I can't keep taking them because of the havoc it will play with my liver in the long term. Does anyone have any experience with natural treatments that I might be able to take instead? I know they might not be a miracle cure but just something to help.

Thanks in advance,

Sally

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  • [Deleted User]
    [Deleted User] Posts: 3,635
    edited 30. Nov -1, 00:00
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    Hi Sally

    Welcome to the forums where I'm sure you will get a lot of help and good advice from all the lovely people on here.

    It is a little quiet being the weekend, but I'm sure that someone will be along shortly to help.

    We are here if you need any support to do with using the forums. Many of the mods have some of the many varieties of arthritis and we all know about the feelings that go along with having it.

    Do read and post across the different topics that you will find here.
    All best wishes
    Mod B
  • stickywicket
    stickywicket Member Posts: 27,720
    edited 30. Nov -1, 00:00
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    Helo Sally and welcome from me too.

    NSAIDS and pain dullers are the standard medication for OA. I wasn't aware that either could damage the liver when taken, cautiously, as prescribed though NSAIDS do require a stomach protecting med.

    There are natural ways we can mitigate the effects of arthritis, exercise, not smoking and a good Mediterranean-type diet being some. Some others are listed here. http://www.arthritiscare.org.uk/PublicationsandResources/Selfmanagement/pain-management

    If you're thinking in terms of herbal supplements etc there is some evidence that cod liver oil can help with OA but not much for anything else and, of course, if you're worried about your liver, you need to take into consideration that world of herbal medicine is unregulated and clear, honest labelling does not always exist. Also many herbal remedies can interfere with conventional medications and how they are absorbed by the liver. Never mix prescription meds with natural remedies with first consulting your local pharmacist for advice.

    As you can guess from this, my personal view of supplements and herbal 'remedies' is that they're a waste of money and potentially dangerous. (Bella Donna and Digitalis are natural but also lethal.) On the other hand I've been taking prescribed medication for my RA for over 50 years and OA for about 40. My blood is monitored regularly because some of the RA meds can definitely harm the liver. Mine is invariably well within the normal range. And I have a glass of wine most days :D
    If at first you don't succeed, then skydiving definitely isn't for you.
    Steven Wright
  • Slosh
    Slosh Member Posts: 3,194
    edited 30. Nov -1, 00:00
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    Some of the information about alternative treatments is misleading or to put it another way, economical with the truth. For example someone I know has assured me that there is no cancer or diabetes in the Caribbean due to a herb which people chew. He also told me to take two teaspoons a day of olive oil to cure my OA. Being the person I am I checked the research on this. To have any effect in the main studies on this patients had to take 2 1/2 tablespoons a day, however as this caused skin and digestive problems in the majority and added 400 calories a day to the daily intake it's not a reccomended treatment. Some people do swear by various supplements but a lot depends on the severity of their arthritis in the first place as well as the placebo effect.

    There are also plenty of charlatans out there. You may have heard of the Australian woman who claimed to have cured herself of cancer through diet, she was making a lot of money from this, had a book due to be published before it came out it was a scam and she had never had cancer.

    Be careful, talk to your doctor about your concerns and do your research.
    He did not say you will not be storm tossed, you will not be sore distressed, you will not be work weary. He said you will not be overcome.
    Julian of Norwich
  • daffy2
    daffy2 Member Posts: 1,636
    edited 30. Nov -1, 00:00
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    It's a bit of a minefield as there are any number of people who either genuinely believe or for commercial reasons will tell you, that they have the 'cure' for arthritis. There may well be things that can help alleviate symptoms, but trying to sort out what they are is very difficult, as the science for and against is often equally bad. You might find it more helpful to look into alternative ways of managing the pain(eg distraction, heat/cold) that OA causes as that can help to reduce the use of drugs.
  • lindamay
    lindamay Member Posts: 118
    edited 30. Nov -1, 00:00
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    Hi Sally
    Someone told me to try Comfrey oil massaged onto the skin. I put it on over night and it does seem to help. It doesn't cost a lot either. Health food shops.
  • barbara12
    barbara12 Member Posts: 21,281
    edited 30. Nov -1, 00:00
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    Hello Sally
    I also have facet joint disease, and thinking about an op they have offered...but has yet I haven't found anything that helps...but somethings are worth a try, especially the fish oils..and of course you have to keep moving the longer you sit the worse things can become...
    Love
    Barbara
  • stickywicket
    stickywicket Member Posts: 27,720
    edited 30. Nov -1, 00:00
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    I checked out comfrey ointment on Arthritis Research UK and the results of a small trial of patients with acute back pain were interesting (Well, to me, at least) as it did seem to help 2/3 of the group who used it although the placebo also 'helped' ¼ of the group who used that :? The conclusions were:

    'A quick search of the web for herbal supplies suggested comfrey ointment is widely available and relatively cheap. Unfortunately, preparations come with various other ingredients which may or may not be beneficial and the concentration of comfrey root extract – 35% in the study – was not stated. However, this looks like a really promising development and we await with interest the outcome of further study.' http://tinyurl.com/puk2z5t That was July 2010.

    Here is the NHS web page on herbal medicines http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/herbal-medicines/Pages/Introduction.aspx
    If at first you don't succeed, then skydiving definitely isn't for you.
    Steven Wright
  • TrishaW
    TrishaW Member Posts: 109
    edited 30. Nov -1, 00:00
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    Hi Sally, I've tried all sorts of suppliments/diets (with care and research-I'm actually a nurse and very mindful of potentially toxic substances) I've Also tried a few alternative therapies.
    In summary I still try and have a mediterranean type diet with lots of vegetables (basically a healthy diet), plus Fish Oil suppliments (not Cod Liver oil as it contains too much Vit A in large quantities).
    I also add ginger and turmeric to foods (eg if making a stir fry or soup), which I love anyway so it's no problem. they're supposed to help inflammation. I avoid junk food (partly as I want to keep my weight stable )
    I try and walk everyday in the fresh air (feet allowing), do gentle pilates and go to hydrotherapy.
    I don't know if any of this helps much but as it's all sensible stuff anyway I'm going to carry on with it!
    I also see an osteopath for massage if I'm feeling very sore with muscle spasm.
    Good luck!
    Trisha
  • dreamdaisy
    dreamdaisy Member Posts: 31,520
    edited 30. Nov -1, 00:00
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    Diet is a very individual thing, it takes time to trace the foods which help or hinder - needless to say it's usually the ones we like that tend to cause the troubles! For my OA I find that pickles and vinegars exacerbate matters, as does overdoing things and cold, damp weather. I can control the first two but have no say over the latter.

    The meds have a role to play and a good one too. They can relieve the worst of the symptoms which enables us to get on better with things. I doubt that anyone on here is happy about taking things for the long-term but if one is sensible the risks can be minimised. Some supplements may be of use but they don't help everyone. I'm 'lucky' in that I have a creaky foot in both arthritis camps, although the meds for my PsA don't affect the OA in terms of relieving pain they have reduced my inflammation to negligible levels, should they spike, however, then a couple of diclofenac deal with that. I keep my pain relief to a minimum - after nineteen years I understand that being pain-free, even briefly, is a thing of the past.

    Diet is a factor but not just for arthritis, it's important for our overall health. Supplements may be of help but they have to be the right kind and not taken in great quantities simply because 'they're natural'. Natural doesn't mean harmless, my rheumatology nurse told me that many medical meds are based on natural sources and their effects. Exercise is a factor but I have had to redefine exercise and what it means for me. I have a regular sports massage which is painful but helpful for at least an hour after. We have to find what works for us and that is a matter of trial and error - and time!

    I wish you well. DD
    Have you got the despatches? No, I always walk like this. Eddie Braben
  • SallyAiano
    SallyAiano Member Posts: 3
    edited 30. Nov -1, 00:00
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    Wow, really, I cannot believe the responses received, thank you so much for taking the time to help me, amazing. I am going to investigate all of the suggestions you have mentioned, which won't be hard as many of them I like to eat anyway! Thank you to stickywicket who took the time to find out about the camrefy oil for me, definitely worth a try especially as the facet joints are quite close to the skin. Fish oils seem to be a consensus thing, to be honest I should really be taking them anyway as I don't eat enough fish.

    Thanks again people and I'll let you know how it all works out.
  • daffy2
    daffy2 Member Posts: 1,636
    edited 30. Nov -1, 00:00
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    Have you also thought about the topical versions of NSAIDS - the gels containing ibuprufen or diclofenac - as an alternative to oral meds? Depends how many joints are affected as to whether it's suitable, a pharmacist would be able to advise, but 3 people I know have found them very helpful, although it took a bit of trial and error to find which suited.
    I occasionally use homeopathic arnica or rhus tox ointment( depending on what I think is the cause of the pain in a given situation - inflammation or over-use) before bed as sometimes that'll take the edge off sufficiently to get to sleep without having the faff of avoiding painkillers on an empty stomach.