Can Acupuncture Help Relieve Arthritis Pain?

Acupuncture for Arthritis

Does the sight of needles alarm the ‘runaway’ trigger in your mind? But what if we tell you that a prick with these needles through acupuncture can relieve you of the stubborn and excruciating arthritis pain that you have been going through. Yes! It can.

If you think that using acupuncture for arthritis is some newly evolved therapy, then you are mistaken. But first, let us tell you what Acupuncture means, and the procedure that is followed in it.

Acupuncture is a therapy whose roots are around 5000 years old, and it belongs to China. The US has approximately 28,000 licensed acupuncturists who are healing away the arthritis pain from innumerable patients.

Acupuncture has been known to relieve people from various pains and aches. It is an ancient technique which has negligible or no side effects. Read ahead as we cover all the aspects that you should know before looking out for an acupuncturist.

    1. Rheumatoid Arthritis
    2. Knee Arthritis
    3. Hands Arthritis
    4. Benefits
    5. Risk Factors

Is Acupuncture for Arthritis Effective for All forms of Arthritis?

Acupuncture Arthritis
Image:ShutterStock

The technique of acupuncture came into being around 2000 years ago. At first, it didn’t receive any adequate attention to be recognized as a medical treatment to various problems associated with the body, but recently the scenario has changed.

There is a significant number of acupuncturists available out there. The researchers believe that arthritis can be cured using acupuncture(1), and their resources back their claims.

Acupuncture diminishes pain by “untying muscular straitjackets – releasing tight, spasmed, shortened muscles to their resting state,” explains Tim Rhudy, who practices as a professional acupuncturist in Delmar, New York for years now.

Some doctors describe Acupuncture as a result of a placebo effect which involves false assurance given to the brain due to some surrounding changes, without causing any actual change in the body. It doesn’t affect the body, so there’s no harm in giving it a go. It can be used to cure arthritis in the knees, arthritis in the hands, etc.

[Also Read: Treat Arthritis with Natural Remedies]

Acupuncture for Different Forms of Arthritis:

How Does Acupuncture for Rheumatoid Arthritis Work?

Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic progressive disease causing inflammation in joints and resulting in painful deformity and immobility. It targets a person’s fingers, feet, ankles, and even the wrists. As described earlier, arthritis is very good in reducing inflammation as it relaxes the body by increasing blood flow in it. Using acupuncture for arthritis can also be very beneficial as it also promotes the release of endorphins in the body.

In a study conducted at the University of Ottawa, participants with knee pain due to rheumatoid arthritis were observed to feel some relief due to electroacupuncture which uses an electric current for pulsating through the needles.

The participants of the study noticed a reduction in pain after 24 hours of the treatment and four months later too. Another advantage that acupuncture treatment has over others is that the needles can be placed all over the body.

Acupuncture points are not necessarily located on the area where the pain is experienced; it can be elsewhere too. It reduces inflammation, increases endorphins, and hence helps cure rheumatoid arthritis(2).

[Also Read: Best Essential Oils to Treat Arthritis]

How to Imply Acupuncture for Arthritis in the Knee?

Acupuncture at Knee Point
Image:ShutterStock

The most common type of arthritis that is experienced by people in the knees goes by the name of osteoarthritis. Osteoarthritis is termed as degeneration of joint cartilage and the underlying bone.

It is very common in middle-aged persons. It causes pain and stiffness in the hip, knee, and the joints of the thumb. People suffering from Osteoarthritis (also known as OA) have a lot of alternatives if they do not wish to take medicines.

Acupuncture is the treatment which shows the most effective results. A well-placed acupuncture needle can initiate a cascade of events which produces a signal that travels along the spinal cord to the brain. This causes the release of a significant amount of endorphins and encephalin which relaxes the body. All of this, in turn, helps cure the stiff joints of the body.

[Also Read: Fish Oil to Treat Arthritis]

How to Use Acupuncture for Arthritis in the Hands?

Hands are another body part which is very prone to OA. The fingers of such people become thick near the joints of the fingers, and the thumb joints become almost immovable. If people try to move their fingers forcefully in such a condition, they can experience a sensation of immense pain. OA in the hands can also cause permanent distortion of the shape of fingers and hence alter the shape of the hand.

Deformation of the shape of fingers also hampers the ability of a person to work efficiently. While there are a lot of medications available in mainstream medicine for such a condition, but all of them come with a lot of side effects.

Hands-on treatments like massage and chiropractic are a few alternatives for the people who suffer from OA in the hands. However, acupuncture for arthritis is the best option among all. It doesn’t require a lot of effort, and it is easy. There are no side effects of acupuncture.

The needles are easily placed anywhere on the arm by the acupuncturist. This causes a chain of impulses in the body which are carried by the receptors to the spinal cord, and hence to the brain, which in turn causes the release of hormones. This release of hormones provides relief to the body.

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[Read: Benefits of Tai Chi for Arthritis]

What are the Benefits of Using Acupuncture for Arthritis?

Acupuncture Needles
Image:ShutterStock

The use of acupuncture for arthritis has suffered a lot of criticism from the skeptics. However, there is some limited, but fairly strong evidence that it can help cure arthritis. Various studies have been conducted which show that acupuncture is very effective in dealing with arthritis pain without any side effects. The needles used to carry out the process are very easy to insert.

The people who practice the ancient technique of acupuncture have a considerable amount of knowledge about the various pressure points where a particular needle must be inserted so that the patient feels no pain.

The needles can be placed anywhere over the whole body. It is not necessary to insert the needle at the point where the pain is experienced. People who practice acupuncture may insert needles in a person’s arms, legs, knees, shoulders, and elsewhere.

Focusing on these points has a great ability to reduce inflammation, and hence increase endorphins. All of this causes excellent relaxation in the body. People can even fall asleep during these sessions; it’s that relieving.

[Read: Acupuncture for Plantar Fasciitis]

Keep These Risk Factors in Mind

Although most of the effects of arthritis are completely positive and effective, there are very few risks involved with acupuncture. The potential benefits of acupuncture outweigh the risks. The risks associated with acupuncture are by far, less harmful than the ones related to mainstream medicines. If the treatment does not suit a person, he can experience the following:

  • Slight soreness where the needles were placed
  • Stomach upset
  • Fatigue
  • Slight Bruising
  • Lightheadedness
  • Muscle twitching
  • Heightened emotions

Moreover, it is not necessary that the acupuncture works for all. There are some cases in which acupuncture doesn’t work for people, but such cases are rare. Moreover, people who are suffering from bleeding disorders may have problems as the needles may cause further infection. Some acupuncture treatments conducted on pregnant females resulted in early labor.

People with heart issues, and who have a pacemaker should be extremely cautious while using acupuncture as heat or electrical impulses can cause a problem with the pacemaker, and hence disturb the heart functioning.

Make sure that the acupuncturist uses only sterile needles. The needles which are not sterile can cause infection, since bacteria and viruses, and other microbes can get into a person’s bloodstream. The needles should come prepackaged.

There is no harm in trying acupuncture for arthritis pain relief. Although some rational scientists still don’t believe in its curing tendencies, it has proven to provide various positive effects which outweigh the negative ones. One should always consult a doctor before getting a therapy that involves the use of acupuncture in any way and on any part of the body.

Make sure to inquire about some insurance plans that cover acupuncture, especially for specific medical conditions, and only approach a good and certified acupuncturist. A person should not be ignorant of what is causing him the pain, so he should always get a clear diagnosis. Overall, acupuncture of arthritis is an effective way to get rid of the pains harmlessly

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