ARTHRITIS COMPLEMENTARY/ ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE (CAM)WHAT ARE COMPLEMENTARY/ ALTERNATIVE MEDICINES (CAMs)?
Complementary/alternative medicines (CAMs) are treatments that have not shown in repeated and controlled scientific studies that they work and are safe. Proven treatments for arthritis must show in repeated, controlled scientific tests that they work by meeting the following goals:
Proven treatments also must show how safe they are. The benefits of a treatment in controlling arthritis should be greater than the risk of unwanted or harmful effects. Even if a CAM is harmless, it can still have a detrimental effect if it causes a person to stop proven treatments that control arthritis. The following are examples of CAMs:
WHY DO PEOPLE WITH ARTHRITIS TRY CAMS?
Arthritis may be painful, potentially disabling and frequently chronic. Treatments vary for each type of arthritis. People often have the misconception that nothing can be done. Some physicians are not experienced in evaluating and managing the many types of arthritis. Consequently, the patient may not receive a diagnosis or be placed on the appropriate medication(s) and non-pharmacological approaches. When a successful treatment program is prescribed, it may change over time as the disease changes. Many people with arthritis become discouraged with this process and hope for a quick and easy answer.
Arthritis symptoms may come and go. A person using a CAM may mistakenly think the therapy worked simply because they tried it when symptoms were going into a natural remission.
People with arthritis may seem to improve because of the “placebo effect.” The power of positive thinking may cause someone to temporarily feel better. The improvement usually may last only a short time, and the underlying disease continues.
COST OF COMPLEMENTARY/ ALTERNATIVE MEDICINES
An estimated $10 billion is spent yearly on CAMs. One in 10 people who have tried a CAM report harmful side effects, according to a U.S. Department of Health and Human Services survey. Any CAM, no matter how harmless, can become harmful if it stops or delays someone from seeking a prescribed treatment program from an experienced physician.
HOW CAN PEOPLE DETERMINE IF A THERAPY IS A CAM?
It may be hard to spot a CAM at first glance. The only information about a therapy may be what is provided by promoters. People with arthritis should be cautious if the proposed therapy falls into one or more of the following categories:
More information about arthritis treatments can be obtained from the following organizations:
American College of Rheumatology
National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases
Information compiled from the National Arthritis Foundation