Chances are, you or someone you know has dealt with one form of arthritis or another. According to the latest data from the National Health Interview Survey, an estimated 50 million adults in the United States have arthritis, and close to half have physical limitations because of their symptoms.

People with arthritis often try alternative approaches to healing, as the drugs that are used to treat it often have side effects, or may not be effective enough to significantly relieve pain and reduce disability. Several recent studies have shown promise in this area.

An 18-month study recently published in the Journal of the American Medical Association looked at the impact of weight loss and exercise on 454 overweight or obese adults 55 and older with osteoarthritis of the knees. Participants who lost at least 10 percent of their baseline body weight had a significant improvement in both pain and function; those who lost weight and exercised had even better outcomes – they had improvements in pain and function, as well as mobility, quality of life and blood markers of inflammation. Pain was reduced by about 50 percent in this group.

In another recent study, Sweedish women who consumed an average of 1,500 mg of omega-3 fatty acids per week (equivalent to about one serving of fatty fish like salmon), compared to women who consumed less, had a 29 percent lower risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis; more than one weekly serving lowered risk 52 percent.

In another recent study, researchers from Boston University found people who consumed cherry products had a 35 percent lower risk of developing a gout attack.