There are many different complementary and herbal remedies that claim to help with arthritis, and some people do feel better when they use complementary treatments. However, on the whole these treatments aren’t recommended for use on the NHS because there’s no clear evidence that they work
Glucosamine and chondroitin for osteoarthritis
Glucosamine and chondroitin are compounds that are normally found in joint cartilage. Some studies suggest that taking these supplements may improve the health of damaged cartilage. Other studies, however, don’t show any benefit so we still don’t know for sure whether they work or not.
Glucosamine and chondroitin are similar to each other. You can buy them from your chemist or health food store. You’ll need to take a dose of 1.5 g of glucosamine sulphate a day. You may need to take them for several weeks before you can tell whether they’re making a difference.
Glucosamine hydrochloride doesn’t appear to be effective, so always check that you are taking glucosamine sulphate.
Most brands of glucosamine are made from shellfish. If you’re allergic to shellfish, make sure you use a vegetarian or shellfish-free variety. Glucosamine can affect the level of sugar in your blood, so if you have diabetes you should keep an eye on your blood sugar levels and see your doctor if they increase. You should also see your doctor for regular blood checks if you’re taking the blood-thinning drug warfarin.
Homeopathy for osteoarthritis
Many people are interested in homeopathy, and a number of different homeopathic remedies are used for osteoarthritis. However, no evidence can say for certain that the remedies are effective.
Acupuncture for osteoarthritis
There’s some research showing that acupuncture can sometimes help ease osteoarthritis-related pain. The effect may not last long, which means that you’ll need repeat sessions. Other studies show no benefit from acupuncture. NICE guidelines do not currently recommend acupuncture for osteoarthritis.
Manipulation for osteoarthritis
Manipulation (a type of manual therapy) by a chiropractor or osteopath can often help neck pain and back pain. Its use for osteoarthritis in other joints is limited. If you do want to try it, make sure you choose a practitioner who is registered with the appropriate regulatory body.