RA is a mediated inflammatory process that triggers an autoimmune response. The result is in the production of antibodies and inflammatory cytokines that over time destroys bone, cartilage, tendons, ligaments and blood vessels (Dewing, Setter, & Slusher, 2012). Although joints are the primary areas of destruction, the inflammatory process can also affect various organs, such as heart tissue including the heart values, visceral layers of the lung and brain, spleen, sclera and larynx (Dunphy, Windland-Brown, Porter, & Thomas 2011). If RA is not treated promptly or if the patient does not respond to treatment, irrevocable bone deformity, bone erosion and immobility is often the sequelae.
Standards of treatment
According to the American College of Rheumatology (ARC) (2012) and recommendations by the International Task Force of Rheumatologists (2010) treatment is aimed at remission, reduction of the inflammatory response, pain control, conserving joint function and preventing and/or halting joint destruction. Medications used to treat RA fall into two categories: fast acting and slow acting. Fast-acting medications typically address pain and inflammation. Medications include but are not limited to anti-inflammatory drugs such as aspirin, ibuprofen, Celebrex and corticosteroids such as cortisone and prednisone. Slow-acting medications slow joint destruction and stimulate remission; these medications include DMARDS and biological medication. The mainstay of treatment is the use of DMARDS such as Methotrexate, Plaquenil, and biologics known as TNF inhibitors including infliximab, etanercept and adalimumab. Since the 1970s DMARDs have been the gold standard of treatment (Kahlenberg and Fox, 2011).
The medication regimen used to treat RA results in adverse side effects that include gastrointestinal complications (gastric ulceration and bleeding), cardiovascular events (myocardial infarct and cerebrovascular accidents), immune suppression, liver damage, lung disease and cancers (Ngian, 2010). Consequently, many patients seek CAM therapy to aid in the management of their disease. Although there are a variety of CAM options, only a few have been investigated and show promise. Tai Chi and Omega-3 fatty acid supplement are two types of CAM that show potential to improve the patient’s mental state, decrease pain, reduce inflammation and improve functional mobility.
Complementary Alternative Therapy
The National Health Institute defines complementary alternative therapy as a health care methodology used outside of or in addition to mainstream medicine (National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM), 2013). CAM is divided into five groups: (1) oral based product, such as supplements, (2) body manipulation, such as massage, chiropractic, reflexing and osteopathy, (3) mind and body therapies, consisting of yoga, tai chi, meditation, biofeedback and hypnosis, (4) energy touches, which includes Reiki, Gigong, and...