Arthritis pain includes a range of ailments, from acute musculoskeletal injuries to degenerative osteoarthritis (OA) to chronic inflammatory conditions, such as rheumatoid arthritis.

Dr. Eric Ruderman, Associate Professor of Medicine in the Division of Rheumatology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago has published a review on Medscape, with lots of space devoted to CAM: exercise, acupuncture, and nutritional supplements.


  • A meta-analysis showed that weight loss greater than 5% reduced disability in patients with knee OA, although the effects on pain were less predictable.
  • Many patients are concerned that exercise might further damage involved joints.
  • Healthcare providers should address this issue.
  • These patients may benefit from structured exercise training with a physical therapist.


  • 2 meta-analyses of the benefits for peripheral joint OA and for chronic knee pain concluded that acupuncture significantly improves both pain and function.
  • The marked differences among studies preclude recommendations for a specific treatment course.


  • There’s evidence that omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids might be beneficial for inflammatory arthritis pain.
  • Glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate are proposed as disease-modifying therapies in OA because of their potential ability to increase proteoglycan synthesis in articular cartilage, thereby stabilizing or improving its structure.

The bottom line?
It’s an instructive look at how mainstream medicine views the value of CAM to treat arthritis pain.

Dr. Ruderman concludes, “In most cases, patients will benefit from a combination of several approaches, typically including both pharmacologic and nonpharmacologic options.”

8/29/07 20:26 JR

Hi, I’m JR

John Russo, Jr., PharmD, is president of The MedCom Resource, Inc. Previously, he was senior vice president of medical communications at, a complementary and alternative medicine website.