Complementary treatment

Joeainnih Member Posts: 2
Good day. I am new to the group. I am 42 and was diagnosed with acute inflammatory arthritis last year. I had steroid injection on middle finger and thumb joints when it got swollen. Aside from that I only feel slight joint pain, one time my knee got swollen but it was okay after few days. I had blood test 2x last April and July and my platelet count is high. I was prescribed with Sulfasalazine last year as well, but I was so scared to start on it when I read all the side effects and how possibly it can damage the liver and kidney. It seems like a chemotherapeutic drug. Anyone here managing arthritis with complementary treatment and just taking supplements? I want to stay away from drugs as much as possible. Thank you.


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

    Welcome to the forum, lovely to meet you. I'm not from Helplines, they will be here in the morning, I'm sure they will have lots of advice to offer.

    If you have an inflammatory form of arthritis your immune system is not working properly and is attacking parts of your joints and tissues thinking they are foreign bodies. To counteract this your immune system needs to be damped down or partially suppressed and that's what the drugs like sulfasalazine do. Even if your joints feel OK to you this damage is still taking place.

    Lots of people with all types of arthritis try various complimentary medicines to cure or alleviate their symptoms, many have some relief. If there was a simple tried and tested way to reset your immune system then we would all be well, however some of these treatments help some people, like tens machines, wheat bags for pain.

    If you take any tablets do talk it over with your rheumatologist as there can be interactions - and if you aren't taking any prescribed medication like sulfasalazine you need to tell them that too so they can monitor your inflammation levels.

    Do let us know how you get on
    Take care
    Yvonne x
  • dreamdaisy
    dreamdaisy Member Posts: 31,520
    edited 30. Nov -1, 00:00
    Hello, I am not a Helpline person, just an ordinary forum member. I have psoriatic arthritis, an auto-immune inflammatory kind, and before I knew what was wrong with me I tried complementary therapies. Of course they did not and could not work as they do not touch the over- active immune system in any way.

    I was born with a faulty immune system so this was always on the cards for me, sadly I did not recognise it for what it was when it arrived back in 1997 and neither did my then GP. Both my parents' families had auto-immune nonsense going on but my parents dodged the genetic bullets, preferring instead to let me bear the brunt. :wink: This nonsense can start at any time in life but is known to run in families. My first medication was sulph but others were soon added as it wasn't not effective on its own. I have been taking medication since the age of 12 so for me this is not big deal, for others it must be alarming.

    The prospect of side-effects has never bothered me. The lists make for alarming reading but they are not a guarantee that things will go wrong. We are carefully monitored when taking these meds and, as long as we are conscientious about having our bloods done, problems can (and in my experience are) nipped in the bud. Many medications are used to treat various conditions but at very different dosages: for example, the largest weekly dose of meotrexate I have read about for arthriits is 25mg, in tablet or sub-cutaneous injected form: for leukaemia it can be 1000mg injected directly into the spine, a very different kettle of fish.

    Most people are not aware that modern drugs have their foundation in natural remedies, people assume that herbal means safe but it's anything but. I began with one affected joint, now it's around forty and I also have osteoarthritis thanks to the joint damage caused by the PsA (I went untreated for five years so no wonder). Not taking the meds is more harmful than taking them, something that people never consider.

    This forum exists for a reason and that reason is that nothing works in terms of curing an auto-immune form of arthritis. Currently a cure does not exist, even why it happens is not fully understood. Once arthritis has moved in it's there to stay, a most unwelcome lodger. As Anton Chekhov once wrote 'When many solutions are offered it means the problem is unsolvable.', in the case of arthritis many solutions are offered by those who don't have it (the cheek! :lol: ) and by those who wish to make a quick buck.

    You don't have to take the medication but, in the long run, it may do you more harm than taking it. I do not enjoy the fact that I have to take the meds I do but I deeply appreciate the difference they make to the quality of my life: having said that I am years ahead of you in terms of dealing with it and are more badly affected, maybe that colours my thoughts. I take a calcium and Vitamim D supplement for nine months of the year, the rest I leave to the worried well. DD
    Have you got the despatches? No, I always walk like this. Eddie Braben
  • helpline_team
    helpline_team Posts: 3,487
    edited 30. Nov -1, 00:00
    Hi Joeainnih

    Thanks for your post. – Welcome to the forum!
    I can see that you already had some very helpful responses so I will not repeat the same information. However I would certainly encourage you to visit the: Living with arthritis discussion forum. From here you are able to network with other people with arthritis and find people who are in the same boat as you. I hope this is helpful.

    In addition to this I would also encourage you to contact our ‘Helpline service’ on our free telephone number 0808 800 4050. We are here for an informal and confidential chat; our services can offer a listening ear and help explore self-management and/or treatment options. We are operational weekdays 9.30am to 5.00pm [ However, the service is closed every last Friday of the month for team training].

    Here's a link to our information on rheumatoid arthritis - the information applies to inflammatory arthritis except that some blood tests may not show as positive.

    Best wishes
  • daffy2
    daffy2 Member Posts: 1,636
    edited 30. Nov -1, 00:00
    Hi there, I'm not a Helpline person but wanted to comment on your query.
    Before you reject the sulpha solely on the basis of the potential side effects it might be worth looking into a couple of other considerations. First - what would happen healthwise if you didn't take any drugs to control the disease? Second - have you compared the toxicity of sulpha with 'safe' over-the-counter drugs such as paracetamol and aspirin to get some sort of perspective about 'toxic' or 'dangerous'? If you take the sulpha you will be monitored for liver function, unlike paracetamol. Any drug will look scary when reading the patient information leaflet as all the known side effects have to be listed - one that I briefly took for osteoporosis listed 'heart attack' as a common side effect, but looking into the reason for that gave a very different picture! - but also drugs may be used for different diseases at very different dosages which can skew the picture.
    Support for complementary remedies tends not to be high on the forum, largely because they have not been found effective by those posting on here - but of course there is always the 'no need' effect to bear in mind, namely that those who might have found a solution by an alternative route then go away and get on with their lives and no longer participate in forum activity. Another problem is the risk of potentially serious adverse interactions between prescription drugs and alternative remedies - herbal remedies are a notable issue in this respect.