Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic disease marked by inflammation of the synovium – the lining – of an individual’s joints. It can result in long-term damage to the joints, pain, loss of function and disability.

Rheumatoid arthritis generally progress through three stages. It starts with swelling of the synovial lining. Pain, stiffness, redness and swelling around the affected joints are the common symptoms. In the second stage synovium gets thicker. Gradually, it leads to a change in a joint’s shape and loss of movement and increasing pain.

There is no effective treatment for rheumatoid arthritis and the exact cause of this disorder remains unknown. More women than men suffer from the disease. Several complementary and alternative treatments are offered to relieve or even cure rheumatoid arthritis. We list out five of them here:

1) Thunder god vine: This is a traditional Chinese medicine which uses thunder god vine to treat various inflammatory and autoimmune diseases. The plant’s peeled roots are used to prepare medications. Thunder god vine preparations are found causing side effects like diarrhoea, hair loss and menstrual changes.

2) Seed oils: Oil extracted from the seeds of borage, black currant and evening primrose could relieve the pain and morning stiffness associated with rheumatoid arthritis. Nausea, gas and diarrhoea are some of the possible side effects with plant seed oils. Moreover, certain plant oils have been found interfering with certain medications causing liver damage in users.

3) Fish oil: Supplements containing fish oils may help decrease arthritic pain and stiffness, studies indicate. Fish oils also sometimes interfere with specific medications.

4) Tai chi: This is an oriental martial art that utilizes a combination of deep breathing with gentle exercises and stretches. Tai chi is known to relieve stress pain from rheumatoid arthritis.

5) Heat and cold: At-home techniques can also help rheumatoid arthritis patients comfortable. Application of heat relaxes painful muscles, while cold can dull the sensation of pain and reduce muscle spasms. Soaking your joints alternatively in warm water for 4 minutes and cold water for a minute is known to relieve arthritis pains.