It’s 2 a.m. and you’re wide awake. Your arthritis symptoms are under control. You’ve given up caffeine, naps and late-night TV, and you practice yoga and deep breathing, but these changes haven’t worked for you. Before resorting to prescription sleeping pills, consider trying one of the following natural remedies. But remember: Talk to your doctor before starting any supplement.
You don’t have to paint like Picasso to benefit from drawing a picture or creating a collage. In fact, no matter your artistic skills, just the practice of making art may ease stress and arthritis pain.
A small study in the journal Art Therapy found art making – drawing, making collages or molding clay – even for just 45 minutes lowered levels of the stress hormone cortisol in people, regardless of their creative ability. And numerous studies link high levels of cortisol to inflammation and greater pain sensitivity. While some study participants found the experience relaxing, others liked the creative self-expression.
If you’ve tried acupuncture, therapeutic massage or other complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) treatments to ease your arthritis symptoms, you’re not alone. About a third of U.S. adults use some form of CAM therapy, at an estimated out-of-pocket cost of $30.2 billion in 2012, according to a National Health Interview Survey. This number represents only 1.1% of total health care spending, but it’s more than 9% of total out-of-pocket health care expenses.
Countless studies have shown that certain CAM therapies may help reduce the pain and disability associated with arthritis and related conditions, yet health insurance often doesn’t cover them. Here are some tips from industry experts to improve the chances that your insurance plan will foot the bill.
Call Your Insurance Company First
Ask if the treatment is covered for your condition, if it needs to be preauthorized and if you need a referral or a prescription. Find out if your insurance will cover your practitioner, whether there are any limits such as a maximum number of visits and if there is an out-of-pocket cost. Also ask if you’ll need to pay up front and then file with the insurer for reimbursement, says Sean McGuire, president of E.D. Bellis, a health care consulting company.
File an Appeal
If your insurance company rejects the claim, file an appeal. Keep a file about your treatment, including notes about calls and copies of bills and letters. Ask your doctor for a statement detailing the medical necessity of your treatment, and ask your CAM provider to supply evidence about the treatment benefits, such as articles from peer-reviewed journals. Ultimately, though, “the onus is on you, the patient, to provide evidence that the treatment is effective,” says Hector De La Torre, executive director of the Transamerica Center for Health Studies, a nonprofit institute for health care education. Resources include the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, PubMed and MedlinePlus.
Set Up a Tax-Exempt Account
Two types of savings accounts can be used for health care expenses, including certain CAM therapies, such as acupuncture. Flexible Spending Accounts, offered by some employers, and Health Savings Accounts, available to people with high-deductible health plans, set aside pre-tax dollars to be used for certain health costs. Check with your account provider to find out if your CAM therapy is considered a qualified medical expense.
Bargain with Your Provider
If your insurance company refuses to pay for your CAM treatments, see if the treatment provider will cut you a deal. If you know you’ll be receiving several treatments, you might be able to negotiate a lower rate (especially if you pay up front).
AUTHOR: ALYSSA SHAFFER
We asked our readers and followers “What’s your favorite 5-minute tip for de-stressing/relaxation?” Here are their answers.
When you need a pick-me-up, help relaxing after a hard day or even a distraction from pain while working on a project, turn on some music.
Music activates your limbic system, the “emotional brain,” which controls emotions, memories and the senses. Music triggers the release of chemicals that can influence your sleep cycles, moods and other factors that contribute to a range of physical and emotional benefits.
Exercise can be a powerful balm for many of the things that ail us, including depression, bone loss, fatigue, heart disease, diabetes and arthritis. But if a goal of exercise is to lose weight, you’ll increase your chances of success by changing your diet.
Yes, you can reap all the benefits from your inflammation-fighting fish oil supplements without the fishy taste.
Don’t let your fish oil supplements linger on a kitchen shelf because it causes fishy burps. Follow these five tips to minimize this unpleasant problem and still get your helping of omega-3 essential fatty acids:
Continue reading Stop the Fish Oil Aftertaste
Researchers agree – meditation can help with a host of health problems. “Relaxing and quieting your mind by focusing on your breathing can reduce stress – even the stress that comes with arthritis flares,” says David E. Yocum, MD, director of the Arizona Arthritis Center in Tucson. His studies, as well as others, found that patients who meditated responded to stress with lower heart rates and improved immune function; and that meditation, in combination with traditional medicines, appears to help patients with chronic pain. Studies have shown that meditation inhibits or relieves pain perception. And in a study published in the American Academy of Pain Medicine’s scientific journal in April 2015, 43 patients who used a mindfulness meditation program as part of their pain management experienced lower general anxiety and depression, better mental quality of life (psychological well-being), a greater feeling of control of the pain, and higher pain acceptance.
Continue reading Easy Meditation Options for Pain
Your arthritis has you exhausted. Instead of dealing with all-day weariness and forgoing activities because you don’t have the stamina, learn some tricks for getting instant energy boosters to fight fatigue from arthritis:
Continue reading Fatigued? Boost Your Energy With These Tips
The pain of childbirth – experienced by women throughout the world every day – is considered to be one of the worst pains humans can bear. But women don’t have to give birth to know more pain than men.
Continue reading Gender Differences in Pain