An NIH Study Validates Acupuncture’s Ability to Treat Arthritis

Joint pain and inflammation are typical to all of the family of diseases collectively known as arthritis. Conventional medicine so far has been unsuccessful in finding a cure for this condition and since most of the types of arthritis are considered chronic conditions, doctors concentrate on relieving the painful arthritis symptoms rather than searching for a cure.

New experiments have seen a connection between the alleviation of the symptoms of arthritis and acupuncture. These experiments reveal that acupuncture can reduce pain substantially and boost the knee function of those suffering from knee osteoarthritis.

What is Acupuncture?

Considered a part of traditional Chinese medicine or TCM in Bellingham, acupuncture is a procedure that uses very thin non-hollow needles inserted into points in the skin where pathways of energy known as meridians travel. These meridians convey vital energy that the Chinese refer to as qi (pronounced chee). Acupuncturists believe that the needles clear the obstructions that have developed in the meridians causing the relief of pain.

One of the most ancient practiced modalities in the world, acupuncture is based on the idea that a life force exists in the body of every living person. This treatment has been used for over 3,000 years. The recent finding of the connection between arthritis and acupuncture, particularly on acupuncture’s ability to relieve pain has made it very popular in the United States as well.

Obviously, some people are hesitant to try acupuncture because of their fear of needles. However, acupuncture is not a torturous procedure as some may portray it to be. Most of the people who regularly go for this treatment do so because it makes them either very relaxed or energized. When an acupuncture needle is inserted into the skin, only a slight sensation is generated. After its effects sets in the treatment may cause a sense of overwhelming calmness or relaxation or a sense of reinvigoration; most of the time, however, the patient sleeps through the entire session because of the calming effects of acupuncture. The needles used are solid, very smooth, and extremely thin unlike hypodermic needles that are used for drawing blood or injections. Acupuncturists may recommend a plan of treatment involving sessions a few times a week for a number of months for a patient with arthritis

Studies done on Acupuncture Treatment for Arthritis

The NIH did a detailed study on how acupuncture therapies benefit arthritic patients. The study revealed that patients who were given acupuncture showed a 40% lessening of their pain as well as a 40% improvement in function compared to the baseline.

About 570 patients all suffering from knee osteoarthritis with ages ranging 50 years old and above participated in this study that was conducted by acupuncturists and rheumatologists. The patients were randomly treated with one of three treatments – sham acupuncture, real acupuncture, or control group participation.

The results of the treatment showed that acupuncture was able to decrease functional impairment and pain caused by knee osteoarthritis. This study makes for a strong argument to integrate acupuncture into a standard regimen of care that can enhance quality of life of patients suffering from knee osteoarthritis.

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