Prayer Is an AlternativeAlternative treatment options for arthritis are popular among patients who have been turned off by conventional treatments, for one reason or another. Typically, you think of herbs and supplements, acupuncture, massage and other such treatments when discussing alternatives. Prayer is not always regarded as an alternative treatment but it can and should be ascribed to that category.
For those who are believers, prayer and spirituality can make a difference. One study published in the CDC's Preventing Chronic Disease reported that spiritual methods (such as prayer) were the second most commonly used complementary and alternative medicine category -- only behind topical rubs and ointments.
According to ChristiaNet.com, "Being a Christian, having faith in God, and trusting in his ability to heal can be the best form of arthritis alternative medicine that an individual suffering from this disease or affliction can find. The most important part of spiritual healing lies in praying to God. For a Christian, the individual must pray cleansing prayers for forgiveness followed by thoroughly thanking God for all that has been given and all that is to come. It is very important to understand that God can provide spiritual healing and thank Him for that healing before it is even accomplished."
Spirituality and Prayer Garner Results
Spirituality can enhance physical and emotional well-being. Johns Hopkins University researchers demonstrated that, for rheumatoid arthritis patients, spirituality is associated with increased happiness and ability to deal with chronic pain. According to the researchers, "Spirituality is one of several known psychosocial variables that influence the course of health over an individual's lifetime. Spirituality may increase psychological and physiological resilience in the face of illness."
Another clinical trial, involving 40 patients who were enrolled in an arthritis treatment center in Florida, revealed positive effects from direct contact intercessory prayer. There was 6 hours of education and 6 hours of direct contact prayer with volunteers from a local healing ministry. Patients experienced less swollen joints, less joint tenderness, and a modest increase in grip strength. A sub-group of those patients received additional prayer, from a distance (referred to as distant intercessory prayer), but they did not experience any additional benefit.
To discuss how prayer works or why it works would require a lengthy religious discussion about Christian basics or other spiritual belief systems -- together with a discussion about the psychology of "believing." A more complex subject there never was. Suffice to say, if you pray and if you believe in the power of prayer, that alone could work to your advantage and help you move closer towards wellness. There is a healing component of prayer itself and of believing in the power of prayer.
ChristiaNet. Therapies for Rheumatoid Arthritis. Accessed July 23, 2009.
Spirituality, Well-Being, and Quality of Life in People With Rheumatoid Arthritis. Arthritis & Rheumatism. Bartlett SJ et al. December 15, 2003., Vol. 49, No. 6 DOI 10.1002/art.11456
HolisticOnline.com. Prayer/Spiritual Healing. Accessed July 23, 2009.