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Carol Eustice

Most Complementary Treatments for Arthritis Lack Scientific Evidence

By January 16, 2013

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A new report, released by Arthritis Research UK, claims that complementary therapies commonly used to treat arthritis and related conditions lack scientific evidence that would back their use. An assessment of randomized clinical trials revealed that many of the complementary therapies or treatments have only been evaluated in one clinical study -- and some went through no clinical trials.

There were 25 therapies included in the report. Effectiveness of each treatment was rated on a scale ranging from 1 (little to no evidence of effectiveness) to 5 (good evidence of effectiveness). There were 9 therapies evaluated for rheumatoid arthritis. Biofeedback, relaxation therapy, and tai chi were rated a 2. The other 6 therapies for rheumatoid arthritis were scored 1. There were 14 therapies assessed for osteoarthritis. Twelve of the 14 therapies were scored 1 or 2, while tai chi scored a 4 and acupuncture scored a 5.

For fibromyalgia, 17 therapies were evaluated. Thirteen of the 17 therapies scored a 1 or 2. Tai chi and relaxation therapy both scored a 3. Acupuncture scored 4, while massage got the highest score of 5. There were 14 different therapies assessed for low back pain. Eight of the 14 scored 1 or 2. The Alexander technique, osteopathy, and relaxation each scored a 3. Acupuncture scored a 4 for low back pain, and yoga scored a 5.

Safety of the treatment was rated as green, amber, or red. Chiropractic and osteopathy were flagged with an amber saftey rating. The report can be downloaded here.

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