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Non-Operative Management of Arthritis with Dr. Ronald Hillock- Part Five

Ronald W. Hillock, M.D.

Alternative Medicine in the Treatment of Osteoarthritis

All possible treatments should be considered following a diagnosis of osteoarthritis. There are many options that a patient can consider that are categorized as alternative medicine like Glucosamine, Acupuncture, Electrotherapy, and Copper jewelry.


Glucosamine is a dietary supplement that is frequently reported in the media as a treatment option for patient with osteoarthritis. Unfortunately, actual reported literature has not supported this recommendation and most studies have found supplements to be equal to or only slightly better than placebo in the treatment of arthritis related pain[i][ii][iii][iv]. Some patients; however, feel positive effects on their joints when taking this supplement.


Acupuncture has been used in the treatment of pain associated with OA, but sadly this therapy has not been proven to be better than placebo in long term outcomes [v].


Electrotherapy or TENS units have been used in multiple studies over the last twenty years with no documented improvement in pain or function in patients with OA[vi]. Use of this treatment provides an analgesic effect while the device is in use.


Copper jewelry and garments have been advocated as a noninvasive treatment option in osteoarthritis for decades. My own family has used these devices with anecdotal success. I can not explain the mechanism of action but if it works for you, than it is a success [vii].

Learn more about treating arthritis and schedule an appointment with Dr. Hillock here



[ii] Burdett N, McNeil JD (Sep 2012). “Difficulties with assessing the benefit of glucosamine sulphate as a treatment for osteoarthritis.”. International journal of evidence-based healthcare 10 (3): 222–6

[iii] Wandel S, Jüni P, Tendal B, Nüesch E, Villiger PM, Welton NJ, Reichenbach S, Trelle S BJM (Sep 16, 2010).

[iv] Wu D, Huang Y, Gu Y, Fan W (Jun 2013). “Efficacies of different preparations of glucosamine for the treatment of osteoarthritis: a meta-analysis of randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled trials.”. International journal of clinical practice 67 (6): 585–94

[v] Manheimer E, Cheng K, Linde K, Lao L, Yoo J, Wieland S, van der Windt DA, Berman BM, Bouter LM (2010). Manheimer, Eric, ed. “acupuncture for peripheral joint disease”. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews (1): CD001977

[vi] Rutjes AW, Nüesch E, Sterchi R, Kalichman L, Hendriks E, Osiri M, Brosseau L, Reichenbach S, Jüni P (2009). Rutjes, Anne WS, ed. “Transcutaneous electrostimulation for osteoarthritis of the knee”. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews (4): CD002823. doi:10.1002/14651858.CD002823.pub2PMID 19821296


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