11 Alternative arthritis treatments

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PHOENIX -- There are about 27 million people who have arthritis, and while usually affects the knee joint, it can affect the spine, as well, says Dr. Art Mollen.

Patients often turn to over-the-counter medication to ease the pain. They might also consider prescription medications to reduce the inflammation of the arthritis.

The medications -- both the OTC and the prescription drugs -- can have side effects or not be as effective as they would like. That's why many people turn to alternative remedies.

Mollen offered several options that might be effective based on anecdotal evidence.

1. Hyaluronic acid
2. Acupuncture
3. Stress reduction
4. Manipulation
5. Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS)
6. Tai Chi
7. Massage
8. Dietary supplements/Omega-3 fatty acids
9. Glucosamine/chondroitin
10. Green tea
11. Ginger

While exercise can be helpful when it comes to increasing mobility, you'll want to back off when you have an acute flare-up.

By definition, arthritis is inflammation of a joint, which is the area where two bones meet. It occurs when there's a breakdown in the cartilage that protect the joints, allowing them to move smoothly. Without that cartilage, the bones rub together.

Symptoms include joint pain, swelling, stiffness, warmth or redness around the skin around the joint and reduced ability to move. While the initial symptoms can be mild, they generally progress.

"You'll have a significant amount of pain which will get to the point where you need some pain relief," Mollen said.

There are several things that can cause the breakdown of cartilage that leads to arthritis. Autoimmune diseases, broken bones, general "wear and tear" and bacterial or viral infections can all cause joint inflammation.

While there are more than 100 different types of arthritis, osteoarthritis, which is caused by general wear and tear on joints, is the most common, according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine.

Mollen's practice is located at 16100 N. 71st St., Scottsdale. For more information, call 480-656-0016 or log onto www.drartmollen.com.