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Rheumatology is a sub-specialty of internal medicine that involves the treatment of a variety of medical conditions affecting the joints, muscles and connective tissues. These include arthritis, sports injuries, chronic pain, osteoporosis, fibromyalgia, and certain autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis and lupus.

Conventional treatments for managing autoimmune diseases typically include oral, injectable and intravenous immunomodulating medications.

  • Oral therapies include methotrexate, hydroxychloroquine (Plaquenil), sulfasalazine (Azulfidine), azathioprine (Imuran), and cyclophosphamide (Cytoxan).
  • Injectable therapies include adalimumab (Humira), golimumab (Simponi), etanercept (Enbrel), and certolizumab (Cimzia).
  • Intravenous therapies include infliximab, (Remicade), abatacept (Orencia), rituximab (Rituxan), cyclophosphamide (Cytoxan), tocilizumab (Actemra) and IVIG. Intravenous infusions are performed in the office.

Complementary treatments, as described below, are also offered and can be an important part of the comprehensive treatment regimen.

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ACUPUNCTURE / FIRE CUPPING

Acupuncture

Acupuncture is a form of traditional Chinese medicine that developed more than 2000 years ago. Its philosophy centers on the concepts of yin-yang and qi. Yin-yang is a dynamic equilibrium of opposing forces. Good health is maintained when there is balance between these forces. Qi, also known as the ‘vital force,’ circulates in 14 main pathways, or meridians, that connect all organs. Illness occurs when yin and yang are unbalanced and the flow of qi is blocked. Acupuncture works to move qi, which restores free flow and good health. It involves the insertion of fine needles into specific areas of the body, known as acupuncture points, with the intention of improving one’s health.

Acupuncture also improves local blood flow, which serves to flush out toxins that accumulate in injured parts of the body and brings much-needed nourishment for healing.

Functional MRI studies reveal that acupuncture has direct effects on the parts of the brain that control pain perception, emotions and mood. Recent studies reveal that acupuncture also stimulates the body to release its own anti-inflammatory mediators.

Combinations of traditional meridian, local and ear acupuncture points are used. Treatments are initially given weekly or twice weekly depending on the symptoms, and the frequency is reduced as symptoms improve.

Fire Cupping

Fire cupping involves using a flame to generate a vacuum in glass cups that are placed on painful muscular areas. This is another technique to effectively restore the flow of qi through the body’s energy meridians, thereby restoring good health. When applied to tense muscles, local blood flow is improved, which serves to flush out waste products and bring in nourishment. This improves muscle health, which relieves muscular tension and improves pain. People also notice improvement in their general well-being. This technique is often used in combination with acupuncture.

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HOMEOPATHY

Homeopathy is a system of natural medicine developed in the 1800s by German physician, Samuel Hahnemann, MD. The philosophy centers on the premise of "Similia similibus curentur," or "Like cures like." When taken in their natural form, substances cause certain symptoms that are instead relieved when given in homeopathic doses. An example is the homeopathic medicine Rhus tox, which is derived from the poison ivy plant. People with poison ivy experience great restlessness due to unrelenting itching. However, in the homeopathic dose, Rhus tox is a common and effective medicine used to relieve body pain and stiffness associated with restless movement.

In making homeopathic medicines, the original substance is diluted to such an extent that only the " energetic imprint" remains. Consequently, there are no side effects or drug interactions. Homeopathic medicines are safe for people of all ages, including infants and the elderly, as well as in pregnancy and breastfeeding.

Homeopathy is a highly individualized discipline of medicine, recognizing that each person is unique. In determining the appropriate remedy for a particular illness, physical and emotional factors are considered.

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INTRAVENOUS OSTEOPOROSIS THERAPY

Treatment of osteoporosis includes the use of oral or intravenous bisphosphonates, such as ibandronate (Boniva), alendronate (Fosamax), and risedronate (Actonel). Intravenous ibandronate (Boniva) therapy is performed in the office.

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INTRAVENOUS VITAMIN THERAPY

Intravenous nutrient therapy consisting of vitamins and minerals has shown to improve chronic musculoskeletal pain syndromes such as fibromyalgia as well as frequent muscle cramps and the fatigue that often accompanies chronic illness. Treatments are initially given weekly or biweekly depending on the symptoms, and the frequency is reduced as symptoms improve.

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