Can Acupuncture Treat Arthritis?
Arthritis is the leading cause of disability in the United States. One out of every three Americans is affected by arthritis, an estimated 70 million people. With age, joints begin to degenerate, causing most people over the age of 50 to display some signs of arthritis.
There are actually over 100 different types of arthritis. The two most common forms are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. Osteoarthritis, which affects an estimated 21 million adults in the United States, is caused by the breaking down of joint cartilage due to age and repetitive or stressful wear. It most commonly affects the joints that see the most usage, such as the fingers, knees, hips, or spine. Rheumatoid arthritis is caused by inflammation of the joint lining, causing pain, stiffness, or swelling. Rheumatoid arthritis can affect any joint and sometimes also affects other parts of the body, such as the heart or lungs of the affected person.
The many different forms and causes of arthritis make it a complex disease with complex treatment needs. Most Western medicine is directed at palliative measures controlling the pain or trying to reduce the inflammation associated with arthritis. Many people, however, experience side effects from pain or anti-inflammatory medication. Additionally, people can develop a tolerance or a dependence on pain medications, causing them to be less effective and requiring an increased dosage to have the same effect. Many people seeking natural relief for the pain of arthritis turn to acupuncture for help.
Acupuncture reduces pain by balancing and unblocking the body’s natural energy flows, called qi. It also helps the body regulate the nervous system and releases endorphins, the body’s natural pain relievers. In fact, magnetic resonance imaging of the brain during acupuncture shows that the part of the brain that deals with the perception of pain, usually over-active in people with chronic pain, is calmed during and for a period of time after an acupuncture treatment. Also, acupuncture treatment is individualized, making it more effective in treating conditions than the “one medicine fits all” approach of conventional western medicine.
There is a myriad of studies showing the effectiveness of acupuncture when treating arthritis. In one study, researchers in Scandinavia found that acupuncture was more effective than physical therapy in the treatment of osteoarthritis in the hip joint. One group of arthritis sufferers received weekly acupuncture treatments while the second group received physical therapy. After 6 weeks, the acupuncture group showed significant improvements in pain levels and functional ability, while the therapy group showed no significant improvements.
A study in China showed that acupuncture reduced the pain and tenderness characteristic of rheumatoid arthritis. Another study in Germany of individuals with osteoarthritis of the knee showed that people who received acupuncture had less pain, improved knee function, and a better quality of life than people who had only routine medical care.
A rigorous study of acupuncture treatment for chronic pain, including in large part arthritis pain, found strong scientific support for the effectiveness of acupuncture. This meta-analysis paid for by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), studied over 18,000 people and took over 6 years to complete. It found that about 50% of people with chronic pain conditions, such as arthritis, demonstrated reduced pain levels, as compared to about 30% in patients who had routine medical care.
If you are dealing with the chronic pain and inflammation of one of the many differing and complex forms of arthritis, you should contact Dr. Tony Willcox of Acupuncture Zen in Delray Beach, Florida. He will work with you to develop an effective treatment to address your chronic pain issues naturally through acupuncture.
Set an appointment to get Palm Beach Acupuncture from Dr. Tony Willcox at the office of Acupuncture Zen. Call 561-274-4447 or contact us online.