Alternative Medicine For Arthritis

Written By: Chloe Wilson, BSc(Hons) Physiotherapy
Reviewed by: KPE Medical Review Board

Alternative medicine for arthritis is becoming increasingly popular. Find out what works best

Alternative medicine for arthritis is an increasingly popular option for arthritis sufferers.

Over 20 million people find themselves limited in their day to day activities because of arthritis.  

People are looking for relief from the pain, stiffness and inflammation associated with arthritis which can be so difficult to treat, especially if they don’t want to have to rely on long term medication or are keen to avoid surgery.

Arthritis is characterized by damage to the bones and cartilage in joints. The Arthritis Foundation reports that approximately 66% of arthritis sufferers have tried some sort of alternative medicine for arthritis. 

Some of these alternative treatments work really well and have some good evidence behind them. Unfortunately, some of them don’t or need more robust studies to prove their claims.  

Our Favourite Alternative Medicine For Arthritis

Here we will look at some of the most popular alternative medicine for arthritis options. 

You can also find out about other home remedies for arthritis in the supplements & homeopathy section, or for more conventional treatments visit the Top 15 Arthritis Treatments section.

#CommissionsEarned from Amazon on qualifying purchases

1. Anti-Inflammatory Creams

Anti-inflammatory creams and gels are a great option with alternative medicine for arthritis

There are some anti-inflammatory creams/gels that can be used as natural alternative medicine for arthritis to reduce pain and inflammation. You simply rub them into the affected area and people usually notice relief within a few minutes and the benefits can last for a good few hours.

Voltarol Gel (also known as Diclofenac gel) is an NSAID – non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug that can help to reduce arthritis pain. Penetrax, Hempactiv and Fisiocrem are some of the other most popular anti-inflammatory creams for arthritis. They all receive really good user reviews of 4.5/5

Anti-inflammatory creams/gels are one of the most popular home remedies for arthritis and are a good way to relieve pain without the side effects that can be associated with taking medication orally. They are definitely worth a try for anyone with arthritis pain. FIND OUT MORE >

2. Capsaicin

Capsaicin cream and patches are a great option for alternative medicine for arthritis soothing pain quickly

Capsaicin is a popular alternative medicine for arthritis. Capsaicin is the substance that gives peppers their “heat”. 

Applying capsaicin to the painful area warms the area and irritates the local nerve endings which diverts your brains attention away from pain, reducing pain levels*.

Capsacin is available either as a cream that you rub in, or adhesive breathable patches that you stick over the affected area. The effects last for a few hours.

Just make sure you wash your hands after application - if you get it in your eyes or mouth it will really sting! FIND OUT MORE >

3. TENS Machine

TENS machines are a great natural way to reduce arthritis pain

A TENS machine (transcutaneous electric nerve stimulation machine) is a great way to reduce pain from arthritis and is a safe, non-invasive drug-free method of pain relief.

It works by placing electrode pads around the painful joint which deliver small massaging electric pulses to the area. TENS provides excellent short term pain relief and can help to reduce stiffness. 

TENS machines work by suppressing pain signals to the brain through the natural pain gate system and encouraging the body to produce higher levels of endorphins, the body’s natural painkillers.

TENS is a very safe way to treat pain, as long as care is taken over where the pads are placed. They are small and compact so you can easily wear them when you are out and about. They receive excellent user reviews with an average rating of 4.7/5FIND OUT MORE >

4. Copper Bracelets

Copper is an increasingly popular alternative medicine for arthritis. Many people choose to wear a copper bracelet to help reduce pain and inflammation

Wearing a copper bracelet is another popular alternative treatment for arthritis.

Copper is thought to help reduce inflammation and swelling and many people with arthritis find wearing a copper bracelet helps reduce their symptoms.

Some copper bracelets also have magnets in them for added benefit. One study in Australia compared the use of aspirin and aspirin coupled with copper magnets in the treatment of arthritis. The results showed the group using the copper bracelets responded better than using aspirin in isolation*.

Another popular option if your arthritis pain is just in your knee is to use a copper knee brace, a standard pull-up knee brace that contains copper which not only helps to support the knee but increasing the circulation to the knee. FIND OUT MORE >

The Best of The Rest

1.  Acupuncture

Acupuncture is increasingly popular alternative medicine for arthritis

One of the most commonly used alternative medicine for arthritis is acupuncture and several trials have shown it to be beneficial in reducing pain.

An estimated 3.1 million adults in the US are treated with acupuncture each year. 

Acupuncture consists of small needles being inserted at various specific points around the body to restore balance and reduce pain. It should only ever be carried out by a licensed acupuncturist.

2.  Essential Oils

Another of the most popular home remedies is to massage essential oils into the affected area.

Massaging essentials oils such as five drops of essential oil of ginger in twenty drops of a carrier oil such as wheat germ or almond oil may help relieve pain. The benefit is however usually short lived. 

#CommissionsEarned from Amazon on qualifying purchases

3.  Magnets

Wearing magnets in either a bracelet or a knee brace can be a really helpful alternative treatment for arthritis

Magnets are a popular alternative medicine for arthritis. They claim to reduce pain and inflammation, increase blood flow and promote general well-being and relaxation. However, the claims are as yet unproven scientifically.  That said, some people swear by them.

Magnets can be worn at different locations around the body and are wearing a bracelet containing magnets is a good option with arthritis.

One of the best ways to get the benefits of magnetic therapy with knee arthritis to wear a magnetic knee brace where the magnets surround the joint. Not only so they support the joint, but they boost circulation, reduce pain and promote general well-being. LEARN MORE >

4.  Climate

Many people find that a cold, damp climate aggravates their symptoms and find that going to warm climates during winter can help to reduce their pain. 

Arthritis sufferers often comment that they know when bad weather is coming because their joints start hurting.  One theory is that it is the change in air pressure that affects symptoms. 

5.  Diet

Beat Knee Arthritis

Our new Knee Arthritis Book is out in paperback or for instant download on your Kindle.  Knee Arthritis: Take Back Control: From Exercises To Knee Replacements & Everything In Between

All the info you need about knee arthritis, top tips, exercises & loads more.

Rated 4.4/5
Find Out More


Knee Arthritis: Take Back Control is available at Amazon on Kindle or paperback
Get it on Google Play

Beat Knee Arthritis

Our new Knee Arthritis Book is out in paperback or for instant download on your Kindle.  Knee Arthritis: Take Back Control: From Exercises To Knee Replacements & Everything In Between

Top tips, exercises and loads more.

Paperback or Kindle.

Read Reviews/ Buy Now

Changing your diet can really make a difference for people suffering from arthritis pain and inflammation.

Certain foods should be avoided such as those containing transfats, AGE's or refined carbohydrates as they can increase inflammation and body weight. Other foods such as those rich in omega-3 can actually help reduce information. You can find out more in the diet for arthritis section.

There are also a number of herbs and fruits that people claim help reduce their pain, such as black cherry juice and about one third of RA sufferers claim that food allergies cause flare-ups in their symptoms.  You can find out more about the best options in the natural remedies alternative medicine for arthritis section. 

6.  Food Allergies

Many arthritis sufferers say there is a link between what they eat and their symptoms. There is no one food that by avoiding means you will not get flare ups, but if you feel there is a link between your diet and symptoms see a registered dietitian to discuss the issue. They may suggest a suitable diet elimination plan. 

Should I Try Alternative Medicine for Arthritis?

Whilst the scientific evidence is often lacking when it comes to alternative medicine for arthritis, that doesn’t mean it should be ignored. Lots of arthritis sufferers swear by them finding them a great addition to more conventional treatment. 

Just remember, you should never opt for alternative medicine for arthritis over proven conventional treatments. They should be used as an adjunct, not a replacement. 

What Else Can Help?   

Alternative medicine for arthritis can indeed be beneficial, but should always be used safely and after consulting your doctor. Some people find oral supplements helpful and some prefer to change their diet. But remember, conventional treatments have the most evidence behind them with arthritis and are always the best place to start. 

You can also check out our book Knee Arthritis: Take Back Control. It is the top rated book on Knee Arthritis on Amazon with an average user review rating of 4.4/5.  It's packed full of great information from exercises to knee replacements and everything in between. A perfect guide for anyone who is having with knee arthritis.

And if you want to know more about arthritis in the knee, check out the following articles:

  1. Arthritis Causes: The main causes of arthritis
  2. Symptoms & Diagnosis: The symptoms of OA and how is it diagnosed
  3. Stages of OA: How the disease and symptoms progress
  4. Treatment Options: 15 great ways to reduce arthritis knee pain
  5. Diet For Arthritis: Which foods to avoid and which foods can help
  6. Natural Arthritis Remedies: Including supplements, homeopathy and alternative therapies
  7. Knee Arthritis Surgery: Replacing an arthritic knee with a new one
  8. Beat Knee Arthritis: Everything you need to know in a handy book

Page Last Updated: 01/02/24
Next Review Due: 01/02/26

Related Articles

Knee Arthritis: Causes, Symptoms & Treatment

Knee Arthritis
June 13, 2023

Top Knee Arthritis Treatments

Top 15 Treatments
November 10, 2022

Knee Arthritis Exercises - beat your knee pain and take back control

Arthritis Exercises
January 11, 2023


1. Capsaican Cream: Best Health Magazine
2.  Arthritis Remedies: Disabled World

*Prices correct as of June 2024.  All prices are subject to change.  Please note we do not stock products directly and therefore have no control over price changes.  See advertising policy for more information.