What to do When You  re out of Treatment Options

If you've tried most possible anti-inflammatory medications, gone through physical therapy, and made every effort not to stress your joints, you may be extremely frustrated when your osteoarthritis symptoms don't dissipate. And if they actually get worse, you may be tempted to throw up your hands. But don't despair-you may not be out of treatment options just yet. First, get a second opinion. See a rheumatologist, who specializes in arthritis, if you haven't yet. Then consider the following:

Lose extra weight.

Excess pounds put more strain on already irritated joints. "The main thing patients can do is get to an ideal body weight," says Dr. Scott Zashin, clinical associate professor of medicine at the University of Texas-Southwestern Medical School in Dallas. Even small amounts of weight lost can help the situation.

Pop a cherry supplement.

One study conducted by Dr. Zashin found that a supplement made from the skin and pulp of cherries can help arthritis sufferers, particularly those who have arthritis in their knees. The supplement is taken in gel cap form. While Dr. Zashin's study was small and did not involve a placebo group, a similar study involving a placebo group is taking place now at Baylor University in Houston.

Try acupuncture.

Some studies have shown improvement in arthritis symptoms, particularly in the back and knee, after patients undergo acupuncture.

Get more Vitamin D.

According to Dr. Zashin, low levels of vitamin D can contribute to the progression of osteoarthritis. The best source of Vitamin D is a supplement since it's sometimes difficult to get the recommended amount of D from food alone. Small amounts of sunshine also will up your D levels. Use sunscreen, especially if you're at high risk of skin cancer, and enjoy a short walk daily at all times of the year.


The data is mixed on whether this dietary supplement actually delivers results, but it doesn't appear to be harmful.

If you have osteoarthritis, know that you're in good company. Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis, with about 10 percent of the population-or 27 million people-suffering from it.




Dr. Scott Zashin, University of Texas-Southwestern Medical School; National Institutes of Health.