A Guide to Integrative Medicine for RA

Five complementary therapies that can help reduce your rheumatoid arthritis symptoms and boost quality of life.

Sunny Sea Gold

Although specific studies on massage and RA are lacking, research on massage as a treatment for other types of arthritis is promising. One study in the Archives of Internal Medicine showed that osteoarthritis patients had less pain and stiffness and better range of motion after getting Swedish massage one or two times a week for eight weeks. What’s more, Dr. Cadet has seen it help her own patients. “Regular massage in a supporting role has helped promote more joint and muscle flexibility for them,” she says. Talk with your rheumatologist about what type of massage you might try, and how frequently you should get it done.

If you’re feeling anxious or blue, meditation can help soothe your spirits, according to a study of RA patients in the journal Arthritis Care & Research. After six months of mindfulness meditation, participants reported 35% less psychological distress than they had at the study’s onset, despite the fact that their actual disease symptoms hadn’t improved.

Mindfulness is the simplest kind of meditation—and you can try it right now. Turn your attention to the process of breathing for several minutes, consciously noticing as you inhale and exhale. When unrelated thoughts pop up (and they will!), acknowledge them and then return your focus to your breath. How’s that for mind over matter?

April 2013