Non-drug Therapies

Maintenance of maximum motion is a main focus of non-drug therapy for chronic inflammatory conditions affecting the joints and spine.  Physical therapy with instruction to do range of motion exercises to maintain function is essential to have a good outcome.  Supervised exercises are better than unsupervised exercises in improving pain, stiffness, spinal mobility, and overall well being.  In addition, aerobic conditioning activities, such as a stationary bicycle, or walking program, are helpful in maintaining respiratory function and cardiovascular health.

Patient education from health professionals and reliable on-line sources can reinforce important messages involving posture, proper lifting techniques, avoidance of thick sleeping pillows, and the importance of consistent exercise.  The correct balance between exercise and rest cannot be overemphasized.  Rigorous exercise can exacerbate symptoms.   Education about proper nutrition to obtain an ideal weight to minimize stress on weight-bearing joints is also important for an ideal outcome.

Psychological support may be needed for those young patients who realize they have a chronic illness.  Some patients believe they are disabled before significant disease manifestations have appeared.  Pain, fatigue, joint stiffness can have detrimental effects on interpersonal relationships and work.  Learning coping skills are essential to maintain activities of daily living in its many forms.

Next: Complementary Therapies