Selected CAM therapies for arthritis-related pain: the evidence from systematic reviews

Clin J Pain. Jan-Feb 2004;20(1):13-8. doi: 10.1097/00002508-200401000-00004.


Objectives: The purpose is to examine what is known about the efficacy of selected complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) therapies for pain from arthritis and related conditions based on systematic reviews and meta-analyses.

Methods: Results specifically related to pain were retrieved from review articles of acupuncture, homeopathy, herbal remedies, and selected nutritional supplements.

Results: Evidence exists to support the efficacy of reducing pain from osteoarthritis (OA) for acupuncture; devil's claw, avocado/soybean unsaponifiables, Phytodolor and capsaicin; and chondroitin, glucosamine, and SAMe. Strong support exists for gamma linolenic acid (GLA) for pain of rheumatoid arthritis (RA).

Conclusions: Despite support for some of the most popular CAM therapies for pain from arthritis-related conditions, additional high quality research is needed for other therapies, especially for herbals and homeopathy.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Acupuncture Therapy / methods*
  • Arthralgia / etiology
  • Arthralgia / therapy*
  • Arthritis / complications
  • Arthritis / therapy*
  • Clinical Trials as Topic*
  • Complementary Therapies / methods
  • Databases, Bibliographic
  • Diet Therapy / methods
  • Dietary Supplements
  • Evidence-Based Medicine / methods*
  • Homeopathy / methods*
  • Humans
  • Naturopathy / methods*
  • Pain / etiology
  • Pain Management
  • Phytotherapy / methods*
  • Treatment Outcome