February 1st 2003
ABSTRACT: Many patients with osteoarthritis (OA) try such complementary therapies as special diets, nutritional and herbal supplements, yoga, t'ai chi, magnets, and acupuncture-but only 40% of these patients tell their physicians. Glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate can produce at least symptomatic relief; in addition, glucosamine (1500 mg/d) may increase or stabilize cartilage in osteoarthritic knees. Alert patients to the potential toxicities of many herbal remedies, as well as the risks of harmful drug interactions and possible contaminants and impurities. Yoga postures may have a beneficial effect on knee OA; t'ai chi may reduce joint pain and swelling and increase mobility. Small studies have shown that applied pulsed electromagnetic fields can reduce pain and improve function in patients with chronic knee OA. Acupuncture has also been shown, in small studies, to alleviate the pain of OA. Autologous chondrocyte transplantation was recently approved for treatment of knee OA. The efficacy and safety of various types of gene therapy are currently being evaluated.