A California doctor recently wrote an article for the Huffington Post that details her treatment of patients with autoimmune diseases. She said that while treating autoimmune diseases seems fairly simple — first, diagnose the disease and then try to suppress the inflammatory process with drugs — a more wholistic treatment can be even better for the patient.

The doctor said that when she first meets her patients they are often frustrated with their bodies and the continuous pain they are facing. Typically, the doctor’s clients see her in effort to take an integrative approach to their treatment, perhaps because the conventional treatments are not going well or they want to limit the use of disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs.

The doctor said it is her professional opinion that the best way to treat rheumatoid arthritis and other inflammatory diseases is with a combination of conventional and alternative methods, including modifications to lifestyle. Sometimes the lifestyle changes and other unconventional treatment methods work well enough to reduce drug dosages, which can take away harmful side-effects.

Some of the alternative methods of treatment the doctor discussed were nutrition, mind-body balance, correction of physiological deficiencies and alternative anti-inflammatory supplements/herbs. She said these factors can all help to achieve “reduction of pain, reduction of joint swelling, prevention of progression of disease and joint erosion, and an increase of overall functionality and well-being.”

The doctor recommends that people with RA and other autoimmune diseases who are interested in treatment using a combination of conventional and alternative methods should contact an integrative physician or natropath in addition to the traditional rheumatologist and primary care doctor to get on an individualized treatment regime.

Arthritis sufferers often experience joint pain, tenderness and stiffness daily. If the pain stands in the way of performing job duties, it may be possible for the sufferer to qualify for Social Security Disability benefits while they work on addressing their medical condition.

Source: Huffington Post, “Rheumatoid Arthritis and Inflammatory Diseases,” Julie Chen, M.D., June 4, 2013