Complementary and Alternative Medicine in Rheumatoid Arthritis: No Longer the Last Resort!

Petros Efthimiou, MD
Lincoln Medical and Mental Health Center
Weill Medical College of Cornell University

Manil Kukar, MD
Lincoln Medical and Mental Health Center
Weill Medical College of Cornell University


C. Ronald MacKenzie, MD

Attending Physician, Hospital for Special Surgery
Professor of Clinical Medicine, Weill Cornell Medical College
Professor of Clinical Public Health, Weill Cornell Medical College
Co-Medical Director, Center for Brachial Plexus and Traumatic Nerve Injury
Non-Operative Director, Spine Care Institute

Abstract

Complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) has become popular with consumers worldwide and accounts for significant private and public health expenditures. According to earlier reports, the prevalence of CAM use by rheumatoid arthritis (RA) patients in the United States is anywhere between 28% and 90%. Extensive use among RA patients and the limited knowledge among physicians had confirmed the need to evaluate the increasing prevalence of various CAM modalities. The primary aim of this study was to identify the incidence of CAM usage among our RA patients. Additionally, we aimed to correlate patient demographics and disease characteristics with the use of specific CAM modalities. An analysis of data extracted from our institution’s RA longitudinal registry was performed. The patients were asked to select from a list the modalities they were currently using and/or had used in the past. Of patients, 75.9% reported current or past use of CAM with >10% using 12 different modalities. Nutritional supplements and touch therapies were the most widely used overall, with mind–body therapies more prevalent among younger patients. CAM users were found to have more extra-articular manifestations and fewer comorbidities than non-CAM users. The use of CAM among RA patients is widespread with a broad spectrum of CAM modalities being used in early stages of the disease, frequently in conjunction with mainstream conventional treatments. Therefore, CAM may no longer be considered the rheumatoid patients’ last resort.

This article appears in HSS Journal: Volume 6, Number 1.
View the full article at springerlink.com.

About the HSS Journal

HSS Journal, an academic peer-reviewed journal, is published twice a year, February and September, and features articles by internal faculty and HSS alumni that present current research and clinical work in the field of musculoskeletal medicine performed at HSS, including research articles, surgical procedures, and case reports.

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