According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 1 in 4 adults in the U.S. have arthritis. The two most common forms of arthritis are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis, and each wreaks havoc on the body in different ways.
The more common form is osteoarthritis, which involves wear and tear of the joints, particularly the hands, hips and knees. As the joints degenerate, the bones get worn down and rub against each other (think bone-on-bone) which can restrict movement and cause a lot of pain. But the damage doesn’t stop there. The connective tissue around the joint that attaches the muscles to the bones can also become inflamed and start to deteriorate. Risk factors for osteoarthritis include overuse of joints, age (typically affects adults over 50), gender (women are more likely than men to develop it), obesity (extra weight puts increased stress on the joints) and genetics (people with family members who have osteoarthritis are also more likely to develop it).
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is an autoimmune, inflammatory disease where the body’s own immune system attacks the synovial lining of the joint capsule, causing inflammation and swelling. RA most commonly affects the joints in the hands, wrists and knees.1 This disease process can eventually destroy the cartilage and bones of the joint, causing deformities in the joints and unsteadiness. While anyone can develop RA, it is most common in adults aged 60+. Like osteoarthritis, RA is more common in women than men – 2-3 times more likely! Interestingly, women who have never given birth may be at even greater risk for developing RA. Other risk factors include smoking, obesity and the presence of select inherited genes.
A hallmark of acupuncture is its ability to reduce inflammation, which makes it an ideal treatment for arthritis. A clinical review of 43 studies concluded, “acupuncture alone or combined with other treatment modalities is beneficial to the clinical conditions of RA without adverse effects reported and can improve function and quality of life and is worth trying. Several important possible mechanisms were summarized including anti-inflammatory effect, antioxidative effect, and regulation of immune system function.”2 Other studies suggest that acupuncture works to stimulate nerve fibers that block pain signals.3 “A meta-analysis published in The Journal of Pain in 2018 found acupuncture to be effective for treating osteoarthritis pain, among other types of chronic pain, and that the benefits persist over time and pain relief can’t be explained solely by a placebo effect.”4 While acupuncture cannot cure arthritis, it can slow its progression. Most importantly, it provides a method of pain relief without the adverse side effects of drugs and is not contraindicated for those who are taking medications for arthritis.
We’ve had great success helping patients achieve pain relief and get back to doing things they love. If you suffer from arthritis and are looking to live your best life again, maybe it’s time to give us a call.
- Chou PC, Chu HY. Clinical Efficacy of Acupuncture on Rheumatoid Arthritis and Associated Mechanisms: A Systemic Review. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2018;2018:8596918. Published 2018 Apr 12. doi:10.1155/2018/8596918