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RA therapies not effective

10th February 2009

A study carried out by the Arthritis Research Campaign has found the majority of complementary therapies used by sufferers of rheumatoid arthritis were not effective.

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The study examined the scientific data available for 40 treatments. They found that two thirds of rheumatoid arthritis therapies and one fifth of osteoarthritis therapies were "ineffective".

An inflammation of joint lining causes rheumatoid arthritis, while a disintegration of cartilage in joints causes osteoarthritis. The areas become inflamed when joint bones start to rub against each other.

Around 60% of arthritis sufferers are believed to use some type of complementary medicine.

The research team examined treatments for the condition and discovered that 13 out of 21 complementary medicines had "no or little effect based on the available evidence".

The 13 treatments examined were: green-lipped mussels, selenium, the Chinese herb tong luo kai bi, homeopathy, antler velvet powder, blackcurrant seed oil, collagen, eazmov (a herbal mixture), feverfew (herb), willow bark, flaxseed oil, reumalex herbal mixture, and the vitamins A, C and E.

However, the researchers found that fish oil was very effective in helping to reduce joint pain and stiffness.

Professor Gary Macfarlane, from the University of Aberdeen, said while some treatments were effective for some people, "it is useful to also have the scientific evidence available and just as important to know how safe we think they are to use."

Professor Alan Silman, the Arthritis Research Campaign's medical director, added: "We didn't start this saying this was our opportunity to knock complementary medicines.

"The message is not 'don't take them'. The message is 'if you are going to take them, be aware of what the level of evidence is'."

 

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