Acupuncture has achieved some widespread acceptance as a medicinal technique after nearly 2,000 years of development. Acupuncture research provides limited, but intriguing, evidence that treatment can help with arthritic symptoms.
The acupuncture idea goes something like this: Qi (pronounced “chee”) is a vital life element that passes through the body through 20 invisible channels known as meridians. Illness or pain occurs when the flow of this energy is obstructed or out of balance.
According to experts, an obstruction in the passage of qi causes discomfort or disease. A practitioner uses acupuncture to stimulate over 2,000 acupuncture sites, restoring the flow of qi and reducing symptoms.
Acupuncture has been shown in several trials to be useful in the treatment of RA and OA. However, how it works is still up for discussion.
Acupuncture has been utilized by TCM practitioners for thousands of years to treat a variety of problems, including neck pain, lower back pain, tooth pain, pain after surgery, headache, and knee pain.
One of the most widely accepted reasons is that acupuncture has anti-inflammatory properties.
It has the potential to decrease the body’s inflammatory response, enhance blood flow, and relax muscular tone. Many practitioners believe that acupuncture is useful in treating arthritis, but producing strong scientific data is challenging.
Acupuncturists, according to TCM, should tailor each patient’s treatment strategy. As a result, conducting accurate and controlled clinical studies can be difficult.
While the specific mechanics of acupuncture are still unknown, some doctors believe that if a person feels better after treatment, it was a success whether they grasp the procedure or not.
The principles of qi and meridians are not recognized in Western medicine. However, scientific research reveals that there are other reasons why acupuncture may give pain relief.
According to a large body of study, when we insert an acupuncture needle into the body, a variety of physiological mechanisms take place.
A well-placed needle initiates a chain of events that results in the transmission of a signal from the spinal cord to the brain, causing the release of neurotransmitters known as endorphins and enkephalins, which experts believe lessen the sense of pain.
Acupuncture needle insertion also stimulates the production of cortisol, a hormone that aids in the regulation of inflammation, according to research.
Acupuncture may also promote the action of pain-relieving substances in the body.
But, do all of these metabolic changes help to ease achy, stiff joints? After 26 weeks, patients who got genuine acupuncture had much less pain and functioned better (as judged by how far they could walk in six minutes) than their counterparts who received sham acupuncture, according to research.
Other studies have not been as encouraging, and the advantages of acupuncture have been difficult to verify due to a scarcity of high-quality studies on the issue of arthritis and acupuncture.
Here’s a look at some of the most current research: Osteoarthritis. Despite the fact that patients provide anecdotal evidence that acupuncture has helped them, most studies have concluded that acupuncture provides very little pain and stiffness reduction for osteoarthritis (OA).
A Cochrane review from 2018 review of six papers on acupuncture for hip pain In persons with hip osteoarthritis, OA determined that acupuncture has little or no benefit on pain or function when compared to sham acupuncture.
In one unblinded experiment, acupuncture as an adjunct to normal primary care was related to lower pain and increased function.
These perceived advantages, however, are most certainly owing, at least in part, to participants’ higher expectations that acupuncture can assist.
Rheumatoid Arthritis: Acupuncture may be effective in the treatment of certain persons with rheumatoid arthritis, according to a new study (RA). A review of 43 studies published in Evidence-based Complementary and Alternative Medicine between 1974 and 2018 concluded that “acupuncture alone or in combination with other treatment modalities is beneficial to the clinical conditions of RA and can improve function and quality of life, and is worth trying.”
Acupuncture may help with RA in a variety of ways, according to the research, including anti-inflammatory effects, antioxidant effects, and immune system function control.
The analysis does note, however, that there is still a discrepancy among trial data and that further research is needed to analyze the effects of acupuncture and how it works.
Fibromyalgia: Researchers examined the findings of nine trials on acupuncture for fibromyalgia in a 2014 review paper published in the Journal of Traditional Chinese Medicine.
Although a few research revealed that acupuncture was more effective than medicines in managing the illness, the majority of the investigations were poorly performed.
The authors found that there was insufficient data to indicate that acupuncture is more effective than a placebo.
Some experts doubt whether the pain alleviation shown in the research is genuine or the consequence of a placebo effect – patients feeling better merely because needles were put to their skin.
In a 2012 meta-analysis of studies published in JAMA Internal Medicine, researchers discovered that real acupuncture was slightly more effective than placebo at treating chronic pain – but only slightly; 50% of acupuncture patients reported that their pain improved by half or more, compared to 42.5 percent of placebo patients.
Other physicians believe that even if the advantages of acupuncture are mostly attributable to a placebo effect, it is still worth trying.
According to a new study, faking needles and other placebos may inhibit pain signals from reaching the brain and encourage other biological effects that might help with osteoarthritis and other ailments.
The amount of benefit you receive may vary depending on the severity of your arthritis and how frequently you are treated.
However, considering that acupuncture rates can range from $75 to $200 for each session, many sessions may not be cost-effective. Before you attempt acupuncture, discover whether your insurance will cover any or all of the costs.
If you want to attempt acupuncture, you need to choose a skilled and experienced practitioner. Acupuncture diplomates have at least four years of master’s level academic coursework, must pass demanding tests, and must fulfill state licensure and continuing education requirements.
Request a referral from your doctor or seek one on the website of the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine.
Treatments for OA and RA differ since these disorders are caused by various reasons. Mild OA symptoms can sometimes be managed by: engaging in regular exercise, keeping a healthy weight, wearing supportive footwear, and employing technologies or procedures that decrease joint strain during daily tasks.
In more severe situations, pain relievers may be required. People might also work with a physiotherapist to develop an exercise program.
People with RA can control their symptoms in a variety of ways. Supplements, changes in lifestyle, and other natural home treatments may be beneficial.
Doctors prescribe two types of treatments: disease-modifying antirheumatic medications (DMARDs) and biological therapies.
DMARDs: DMARDs work by first alleviating RA symptoms and then delaying their development. They function by reducing the impact of substances generated by the immune system when it assaults the joints. These substances, if not treated, might cause further harm to adjacent bones, tendons, ligaments, and cartilage.
Biological treatments: These are frequently used in conjunction with DMARDs if the DMARD has not been successful on its own. They operate by preventing specific molecules in the blood from activating the immune system and causing them to attack the joints. For people with severe RA, a doctor may give Janus kinase inhibitors, a new class of medication.
Acupuncture supporters believe that when conducted by a skilled practitioner, it is a gentle approach to cure the body that produces little to no discomfort in most individuals.
In rare situations, some people may develop minor, short-term adverse effects such as bleeding, bruising, or discomfort where the needles penetrate the skin, sleepiness, nausea, feeling dizzy or faint, and exacerbation of underlying symptoms.
TCM practitioners think that when symptoms alter or worsen after acupuncture, the practice may expose previously undetected blocks in the passage of qi. In these circumstances, additional therapies would be required to address any new problems.
If you decide to get acupuncture, be sure the acupuncturist is either a licensed healthcare professional, such as a doctor, nurse, or physiotherapist, or a member of a national acupuncture organization.
Acupuncture is typically highly safe when performed by a competent practitioner.
Mild, short-term adverse effects include discomfort where the needles penetrate the skin, bleeding or bruising where the needles puncture the skin, sleepiness, feeling nauseous, disoriented, or faint, and exacerbation of pre-existing symptoms occur infrequently.
If you have a bleeding disease, such as hemophilia, or are taking anticoagulants, see your doctor before undergoing acupuncture.
Acupuncture is also generally not recommended if you have a metal allergy or an infection in the location where needles may be put Acupuncture is typically safe to use while pregnant. However, consult with your acupuncturist.
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