Understanding the Role of Acupuncture in Arthritis Treatment
Arthritis is a joint condition that requires ongoing treatment to manage the symptoms of pain, swelling, and reduced mobility. A wide range of treatments are available for this condition, including medications, injections, heat, massage, and surgery. Acupuncture is an alternative treatment that is getting renewed attention for the treatment of arthritis conditions. It can be of significant help in managing pain and improving joint function.
Acupuncture is an ancient Chinese system of healing that uses the energy of the body to relieve pain and improve function. The method is believed to go back to 6,000 years B.C.E., when it was done with sharpened stones and sticks. Early writings mention the “meridians” of the body, although they were depicted very differently than in today’s acupuncture. The manipulation of “qi” energy through these meridians is the basis of the practice, which is believed to assist in promoting good health and longevity. To do this, very fine needles are inserted into the body at specific points to induce the flow of energy through the body. Although how acupuncture works is not well understand, more and more physicians are recommending it as an adjunct therapy for diseases with painful symptoms such as arthritis.
How Acupuncture Works
Scientists have studied the practice and effects of acupuncture and believe it works by stimulating nerves along the acupuncture points of the body. Other evidence indicates that the insertion of the needles cause the body to release neurotransmitter chemicals that help to relieve pain. As more evidence becomes known, it is clear that acupuncture can be an effective way to manage certain disease states.
Acupuncture and Arthritis
Acupuncture is now recognized as an effective adjunct therapy for long-term pain associated with conditions such as osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. Studies have shown the method can improve both pain and mobility for patients with osteoarthritis.
However, acupuncture has not been proven to be effective in controlling joint inflammation, nor can it prevent the joint damage that often occurs with these conditions.
Finding an Experienced Acupuncturist
Because the use of acupuncture as an additional therapy to relieve arthritis pain is becoming more common, your orthopedic physician may be able to refer you to a practitioner that has the knowledge and training needed for effective help for your arthritis pain.