Arthritis and Acupuncture

By James Whittle M.S., L.Ac.

The Research

1. A Scandinavian study found that 25 percent of patients previously scheduled for knee surgery canceled their plans after bi-weekly treatments with acupuncture. That same study showed booster treatments once a month sustained the pain relief. The patients did 16 acupuncture visits in 8 weeks and then started the booster treatments.

2. Researchers from the University of Maryland School of Medicine evaluated the effect of acupuncture on 73 patients with moderate to severe osteoarthritis. Each patient was assigned either to continue on anti-inflammatory drugs or to undergo eight weeks of acupuncture. According to Reuters news service the treatment resulted in “significant changes.” Dr. Brian Berman told the news service: “Acupuncture did reduce their pain, they had less stiffness, and they were able to function better.”

3. In another study, researchers compared acupuncture with advice and exercise for the treatment of OA of the hip. Thirty-two patients awaiting a total hip replacement were separated into two groups. One group received one 10-minute and five 25-minute sessions of acupuncture, and the other group received advice and hip exercises over a six-week period. Patients were assessed for pain and functional ability: Patients in the acupuncture group showed significant improvements, while no significant changes were reported in the group that received advice and exercise therapy. The results of this study indicate that acupuncture is more effective than advice and exercise for the treatment of OA of the hip.

Can Acupuncture Help Arthritis?

Yes, in many cases. Pain is the primary complaint of arthritis sufferers, and acupuncture is a very effective form of pain control. It relieves pain in three ways. First, it causes the body to produce chemicals called endorphins, which inhibit the perception of pain. Endorphins are similar to morphine, which is given in Western medicine. The big difference is that endorphins are produced naturally by the patient’s own body. Hence, there are no side effects. Second, acupuncture works through the nervous system by blocking the transmission of pain signals to the brain. Third, it deactivates trigger points. Trigger points are tender and extremely reactive areas that develop in the muscles and fascial sheaths of the body. They are often responsible for chronic pain and are frequently found around arthritic joints. Acupuncture also has a very relaxing effect on the mind and body. Since much illness is the result of stress, this relaxation helps to promote the healing process.

Can Acupuncture Help Other Symptoms of Arthritis?

Acupuncture is incredibly successful at relieving pain, but it can also have a positive effect on other symptoms that appear in the three primary forms of arthritis. The first form, rheumatoid arthritis, is characterized by inflammation (swelling, heat, redness and pain) in and around joints. The degree of inflammation fluctuates, possibly following changes in the stress levels of the body. Acupuncture stimulates the adrenals to produce natural steroids, which have an anti-inflammatory effect. Since they are produced by the body, they do not cause side effects. Rheumatoid arthritis is characterized by periods of exacerbation and remission, but pain often persists once the inflammation has subsided. Acupuncture is very effective at relieving this pain by inactivating trigger points around the joints.

Osteoarthritis and Acupuncture

The second and most common form is osteoarthritis. It involves the gradual wearing away of cartilage in joints along with the deposition of calcium, which limits mobility of the joint. Acupuncture stimulates the parathyroid glands to produce the hormone that draws calcium out of bones, only in this case, the hormone works on the arthritic deposits. Research in China has shown that bony spurs on the vertebrae of the neck have disappeared after several courses of acupuncture treatment. More research needs to be done. When the joint reaches a certain level of deterioration, acupuncture will not restore it to a normal state. It is, however, extremely effective at controlling the pain that often accompanies this deterioration.

Can Chinese Medical Herbology help with arthritic symptoms?

Herbal medicine is used not only to decrease inflammation, but to reduce swelling and increase circulation to the affected joint. Select herbs are also used for their ability to alleviate pain. The advantage of herbal medicine is that it is virtually side effect free. Chinese herbs and Chinese herbal remedies are very effective for arthritic conditions. For an all natural solution to arthritis try organic Chinese herbal formulas and remedies. We can show you how: 828-254-4405.

How can the Blue Ridge Acupuncture Clinic help you?

  • Discounts for seniors.
  • Expert Acupuncture treatments performed with compassion and care.
  • Expert Herbal medicine treatments, supplement and nutrition advice.
  • Handicap access.

Reach James Whittle M.S. L.Ac. Acupuncture in Asheville

Call : 828-254-4405 for a Free Consultation

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