There are tried and tested ways to manage arthritis—medication, surgery, compression therapy, and exercise, just to name a few.
But when you have over 50 million adults suffering from some form of arthritis, it’s inevitable that new ways to manage the condition will crop up to give sufferers new hope that they will one day not have to deal with the pain, inflammation and discomfort that it brings.
Here are some of the latest arthritis treatments that you should take note of (please bear in mind that these are novel therapies which should not be commenced without talking to your doctor):
1. Scorpion venom could help reduce severity of rheumatoid arthritis (RA)
Researchers from Baylor College of Medicine have found a correlation between scorpion venom and reducing RA symptoms. RA, which is one of the most common types of arthritis, is an autoimmune disease that causes inflammation of joints, which lead to pain. According to their study, the symptoms start because of fibroblast-like synoviocyte (FLS) cells. As they move into the joints, it reacts with other elements and ends up secreting toxins that lead to arthritis pain and inflammation.
To counteract its effects, the scientists took a component found in scorpion venom, iberiotoxin, which can block FLS activity, once it is injective into the body.
Right now, the study is still in the testing phase and has only been tested on mice. So to be clear, how this will affect humans has yet to be determined. Still, their findings could potentially see the development of better pain management options for patients with RA.
2. Cooled radio-frequency ablation could treat osteoarthritis
A new treatment recently approved by the US Food and Drug Administration could treat knee arthritis without surgery.
The process, called cooled radio-frequency ablation or Coolief, uses radio frequency to prevent nerves from sending pain signals to the affected area. The effects have been compared to cortisone injections, which have long been used to treat the condition.
The treatment however, isn’t permanent. It can only reduce pain for around six to 12 months. But even then, it means patients can take less medication and maintain their normal physical lifestyles.
The procedure only takes around 40 minutes. But while it seems like a simple procedure, be aware that possible risks include infection, bleeding, or even a needle hitting the wrong nerve, which could cause even more problems. Medical experts are quick to point out that these incidences are rare however, and that patients can engage in their usual routine 24-48 hours after treatment.
3. Improve arthritis symptoms using stem cells
Another non-surgical alternative to treat the most common form of arthritis, osteoarthritis, relies on your own body to treat itself.
Stem cells are extracted from the patient itself. The extracted sample is placed in a centrifuge to isolate the stem cells and is then injected back into the damaged joint as a way to kick-start the healing process.
The process is said to take only about an hour and a half, with little side effects, downtime or discomfort. While the study is promising, outcomes still vary.
4. Reduce dependence on pain meds with cryotherapy
This treatment is based on the premise that extreme cold can help treat body aches and pains—a technique that has recently grown in popularity among athletes.
It entails hospitalization for about two to three weeks as the process requires careful administration by medical professionals. The procedure will take place twice a day, and will need 10 to 15 sessions.
While the whole process might seem tedious, successful results are said to reduce arthritis pain so significantly that patient dependence on pain medication have gone down by as much as 40 percent. In addition, mobility improves by as much as 60 percent. Note that the effects of cryotherapy only lasts for up to six month.
As promising as these new treatments and scientific breakthroughs are, they’re all still in very early stages of study or implementation. Our advise? Be sure to do thorough research and consult your doctor before you sign up for trials or explore these new medical interventions.