While acupuncture is an ancient practice with roots going back thousands of years, it can be a beneficial treatment option for many ailments that people suffer from today, including arthritis. According to a 2021 report by the CDC, between 2016 and 2018, an estimated 58.5 million American adults (almost 24%) suffered from some form of doctor-diagnosed arthritis.*
Arthritis can be debilitating and significantly reduce one's quality of life. Acupuncture can be a helpful complementary treatment for the symptoms of arthritis. For example, pain is a key symptom. A small 2010 study published in Brain Research suggests that acupuncture may help deactivate the brain areas associated with processing pain.
The most common form of arthritis, OA, is caused by a breakdown of cartilage. Oftentimes, this can cause pain, stiffness, swelling, and a decreased range of motion in the affected joint. Most commonly, OA affects the knees, hands, and hips. Although research has shown mixed results, it is conditionally approved by the American College of Rheumatology. In 2017, a meta-analysis update published in The Journal of Pain opined that acupuncture was effective for osteoarthritis pain.
Rheumatoid Arthritis (“RA”)
Like OA, RA also causes joint pain, stiffness, and swelling, but RA is an autoimmune disorder, meaning it's caused by the body attacking its healthy cells. It is also sometimes listed or described as an inflammatory condition.
A 2019 study published in The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine (now called The Journal of Integrative and Complementary Medicine) of 105 participants with RA of the hand showed significant improvement in the following areas for those receiving acupuncture:
- self-reported pain
- hand grip and arm strength
- health status
- quality of life in multiple survey domains
- the number of swollen and tender joints
Participants receiving sham acupuncture showed no significant changes except an improvement in self-reported pain, while those receiving neither showed an overall worsening.
If you are suffering from any form of arthritis and want to learn more about this ancient treatment, contact our office today. We'll be happy to discuss whether acupuncture could be helpful for you and answer any questions you may have.
*For the purposes of this survey, diagnoses of gout, lupus, and fibromyalgia were also included as conditions that would warrant a “yes” response, in addition to rheumatoid arthritis and what we've assumed is osteoarthritis but is referred to simply as "arthritis" in this survey.