Acupuncture and Arthritis

Inflammation and joint pain is common to all of the family of ailments known collectively as arthritis. Doctors have, for many years, searched for a permanent cure for arthritis. Since many forms of arthritis are generally incurable, most doctors focus on treatment to relieve the painful symptoms of arthritis rather than looking for a cure.

Now, however, a new study connects acupuncture and relief of arthritis symptoms. The study said that the combination of acupuncture and arthritis can significantly reduce pain and improve function in those suffering osteoarthritis of the knee.

What is Acupuncture?

Acupuncture is practice of traditional Chinese medicine where very thin needles are placed into the body at various acu-points. This is thought to help unblock the clogged energy channels and thus, help ease pain as a result of such blockage.

Acupuncture, one of the oldest medical procedures in the world, is a practice of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). TCM is based on the idea that the body’s life force, also called “qi,” flows along the body in pathways known as meridians. While now practiced widely throughout the world, acupuncture started in Chine over 2000 years ago. As the pain relieving benefits of acupuncture become more well known in the United States, the procedure is become much more accepted and sought out here as well.

While it may sound painful to be stuck with needles, acupuncture is not the torture some may believe it to be. Most adherents of acupuncture suggest that there is only a slight sting when the needles prick the skin. The remainder of the procedure is not painful. The needles used by acupuncturists are very thin, very smooth, and are solid. They are not hollow like needles used in most medical procedures. Acupuncture sessions vary in duration, depending on the treatment that is being given. When it comes to acupuncture and arthritis, treatment may require two sessions a week and may last for several months.

National Institutes of Health Study on Arthritis and Acupuncture.

The study on acupuncture and arthritis was conducted by the US National Institute of Health (NIH). The study, one of the largest and longest on record, reported that participants receiving acupuncture had 40 percent improvement in function and a 40 percent decrease in pain.

The study, conducted by rheumatologists and acupuncturists, included 570 patients, aged 50 and over, with osteoarthritis of the knee. Study participants either received acupuncture, the treatment equivalent of a placebo, or a self help treatment program (the control group).

“For the first time, a clinical trial with sufficient rigor, size, and duration has shown that acupuncture reduces the pain and functional impairment of osteoarthritis of the knee,” said Stephen E. Straus, M.D., NCCAM Director. “These results also indicate that acupuncture can serve as an effective addition to a standard regimen of care and improve quality of life for knee osteoarthritis sufferers.