The national charity Arthritis Research UK, has published a report on physical therapies for low back pain, osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis and fibromyalgia. The most effective therapies were found to include:
• Acupuncture for osteoarthritis, low back pain and fibromyalgia
• Massage for fibromyalgia and low back pain.
Arthritis Research UK reviewed all the trial evidence of treatments for musculoskeletal conditions like arthritis. They looked at 25 therapies, and found that acupuncture, massage, tai chi and yoga had been proved to work for arthritis, fybromyalgia and back pain.
According to the lead author of the report, Dr Gareth Jones from the University of Aberdeen, there is very little evidence for most complementary therapies.
“But there are some exceptions, like acupuncture and the whole body therapies like massage and tai chi, which do appear to work.”
Reassuringly, all of the therapies looked at are relatively safe with only minor side effects, even if they may not be effective, says Dr Jones.
Prof Alan Silman, of Arthritis Research UK, the charity which commissioned the report, said the findings would inform and empower patients. “These treatments are things that patients make decisions about themselves and it is important that they have all the available information.” He stressed that a lack of evidence that a therapy worked did not necessarily mean it would be unhelpful for all patients.
Terry Cullen of the British Complementary Medicine Association said: “Slowly, but surely, complementary and alternative therapies are being recognised as a having health and well-being value,”