National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM)

NIH…Turning Discovery Into Health®

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Arthritis

An estimated 27 million adults in the United States live with osteoarthritis—the most common type of arthritis. Osteoarthritis, also called degenerative joint disease, is caused by the breakdown of cartilage, which is the connective tissue that cushions the ends of bones within the joint. Osteoarthritis is characterized by pain, joint damage, and limited motion. The disease generally occurs late in life, and most commonly affects the hands and large weight-bearing joints, such as the knees. Age, female gender, and obesity are risk factors for this condition.

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a health condition that causes pain, swelling, stiffness, and loss of function in the joints. Conventional medical treatments are highly effective for RA; however, researchers are also studying complementary health approaches as possible additions to RA treatments.

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