Alternative therapies for musculoskeletal conditions

Best Pract Res Clin Rheumatol. 2008 Jun;22(3):499-522. doi: 10.1016/j.berh.2007.12.007.


The use of complementary and alternative medicine is complex and nuanced. Patterns of use of complementary and alternative medicine differ among racially and ethnically different groups. Multivariate models of utilization indicate that ethnicity plays an independent role in the implementation of these modalities, in seeking practitioners and in health problems for which assistance is required. Moreover, there are many reasons why people use complementary and alternative medicine: conventional treatment may not be working as well as they would like; they want greater relief of symptoms and/or disability; they have issues with side-effects of pharmaceutical treatment; they wish to reduce some of the stress that comes from living with a chronic illness and want to cope better; they believe that complementary and alternative therapies are safer and 'natural'; and they are influenced by the widespread advertising and attractive claims that are made for many natural products. Although there are more than 150 different kinds of syndromes and conditions associated with arthritis, this review will focus on currently available evidence-based medicine for the two most common conditions diagnosed in Western countries - osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis - for which people seek and then implement complementary and alternative medicine modalitites.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Acupuncture
  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid / therapy*
  • Dietary Supplements*
  • Humans
  • Osteoarthritis / therapy*
  • Phytotherapy*