Acupuncture for Arthritis

Arthritis can be a frustrating condition to treat. Doctors most commonly prescribe non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs to treat the pain, but these medications have significant side-effects including an increased risk of heart attack. No wonder people are looking for alternative ways to treat joint-related inflammation and stiffness. One treatment that holds promise for some types of arthritis is acupuncture. 

Can acupuncture relieve arthritis stiffness and pain?

Acupuncture for Arthritis Stiffness and Pain: Does It Work?

Researchers at the Peninsula Medical School did an in-depth analysis of previously published studies on using acupuncture to treat arthritis in hopes of giving clinicians a better idea of the effectiveness this treatment. According to their review, acupuncture is effective for treating some types of arthritis - but not all. It has the most benefits for treating osteoarthritis but doesn’t seem to help the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis and fibromyalgia. Acupuncture is also effective for people who have chronic low back, neck, or elbow pain.  

Acupuncture for Osteoarthritis: How Does It Relieve Arthritis Stiffness and Pain?

Acupuncture relieves arthritis pain and stiffness by causing the brain to produce more anti-stress chemicals called endorphins. Endorphins not only give a sense of well-being, but they also reduce the perception of pain. The advantage of using acupuncture for osteoarthritis is it offers a completely drug-free way to reduce arthritis stiffness and pain - and it has few side-effects. On the other hand, acupuncture doesn’t cure arthritis; it only relieves the symptoms. But it does make it easier for osteoarthritis sufferers to get around.  

Are There Drawbacks to Acupuncture for Arthritis?

Although acupuncture is a safe procedure, it may take several acupuncture sessions to successfully treat arthritis stiffness and pain. Most people get several sessions a week for a month or longer. Not all insurances pay for acupuncture, so it could mean paying out-of-pocket, which can be expensive. Nevertheless, acupuncture for arthritis pain and stiffness may be worth it for people who are concerned about the side-effects of arthritis drugs. 

Acupuncture for Arthritis: The Bottom Line?

Acupuncture may be beneficial if you have osteoarthritis, but don’t count on it to relieve the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis or fibromyalgia. Talk to your doctor about this treatment option.