Mind-Body Healing Arthritis Alternatives
 
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Ellen Gordon, M.Ed lives near Valley Forge, Pennsylvania where she writes, exercises and works to maintain a healthy way of life.

About Ellen Gordon:
"I've had rheumatoid arthritis for 20+ years. Initially I worked with conventional medical doctors. Before I developed Rheumatoid Arthritis my family doctor had always helped resolve my medical problems. But this time nothing helped. As the disease progressed doctors prescribed stronger and stronger medicines. Not only didn't the medicine help, the side effects made everything worse.

(Note: some patients are helped by the traditionally prescribed medicines; I wasn't.)

After ten years of working with rheumatologists, I finally decided to stop taking traditional medicines and only work with alternative medical practitioners. It was a difficult personal decision that was right for me. Many people choose to work with more traditional doctors and that seems to be best for them.

Most of the treatments on this site are "complementary". They can be used while working with a traditional physician or with alternative practitioners. Either way, it is always best to check with your doctor and let him/her know what you are doing. I have worked with treatments such as yoga, meditation, experimenting with diet modification almost from the beginning. I did yoga and meditation when I was working with a medical doctor who specialized in rheumatology and I continued when I switched to holistic medical doctors.

Here is a partial list of alternative treatments that have been helpful for me.
  • Exercise helps me. This includes dancing, yoga, stair climber, walking, qigong, rebounding.

    Singing helps me. Sometimes I sing well-known songs. Other times I open my mouth and let out whatever sound is there.

    Writing in my journal helps me. Sometimes I observe my life. Sometimes I write about things I am grateful for. Other times I write about feelings. If something bad happens, I write about it. I also write about my hopes and dreams.

    Being outside helps me.

    Prayer helps me.

    Massage helps me.

    Meditation helps. I especially like meditation where I focus on my breath.

    Finding constructive ways to identify and express my feelings gives me relief. I do this mostly by writing, and sometimes by working with a psychotherapist. Many of the activities that help with arthritis (such as exercise, prayer, singing) also help me connect with my feelings.

    Forgiveness helps. This includes forgiving myself for my own mistakes. It also means letting go of resentment of mistreatment by others. This does not mean it is okay that bad things were done. It means I find a way to say "I am not going to hold on to my anger anymore. I release it. I do this because holding onto resentment is bad for my health. I do this because forgiveness is good medicine for me."

  • Modifying my diet has been helpful. For me the important changes are eating organic food and giving up sugar, wheat and other gluten-containing grains.
Although not completely arthritis-free, I have been helped a lot by all of the alternative treatments described on this website.

Frequently the practitioner is as important as the treatment. For example, I went to a medical doctor who used acupuncture. Acupuncture with this doctor didn't help me at all. But I know of others who got significant relief from acupuncture. One woman in particular was helped by an acupuncturist. When the acupuncturist left the area, the woman tried several other acupuncturists. They didn't help her at all. For this woman it was the talent and intuition and training of the first acupuncturist that made the difference.

I have worked with many doctors who use alternative therapies. Some helped more than others. I am now working with a doctor who practices "biological medicine". He prescribes homeopathic pills and herbs and supplements that are right for me and my body. Other patients with rheumatoid arthritis receive different pills and supplements. In other words, this doctor treats the whole person, not just the disease.

When people choose to find their unique healing path, there is no one blueprint to follow. You become responsible for finding the path that is right for you. The information that I placed on this website is about treatments that people might want to consider using themselves. Most of the treatments can be used in conjunction with whatever medical treatment you choose. It is always good to check with your doctor. This is especially important if you decide to fast or if you decide to try a new exercise program.

comments and questions are welcome.

To deal with anxiety, especially when I had an arthritis flare or needed surgery, I used audio tapes with relaxation and healing visualizations. Eventually I started to make my own tapes. I now have a company that produces meditation, relaxation and healing tapes and CDs: Relaxation and Healing Tapes and CDs