Arthritis causes many unpleasant and persistent symptoms, such as stiffness, swelling, decreased flexibility, and aching. Some people with severe arthritis may become unable to perform daily tasks because they experience too much pain. So far, no cure for arthritis exists; patients are encouraged to manage their symptoms through medications, physical therapy, and other interventions. Acupuncture can provide much-needed relief from painful arthritis symptoms, so let’s take a closer look at the potential benefits of regular treatment sessions.
The Mechanisms of Arthritis
The two most common forms of arthritis are rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis. Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease affecting over 1.5 million people in the USA. To learn more about treating rheumatoid arthritis with acupuncture, read this article.
Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), it affects over 32.5 million people across the United States. As people age, the cartilage within their joints starts to break down, leading to inflammation, pain, stiffness, and decreased mobility—most often in their hips, knees, or hands. Risk factors for developing osteoarthritis include:
- Age: People are more likely to develop osteoarthritis as they age.
- Injury: Joint injuries can lead to the development of osteoarthritis later on.
- Gender: Women are more likely than men to develop osteoarthritis over the age of 50.
- Obesity: Additional weight creates more stress on joints. The metabolic changes that happen with obesity also make it more likely to develop arthritis.
- Genetics: If your family members have osteoarthritis, you may be more likely to develop it.
Acupuncture for Arthritis
Research on chronic pain finds that acupuncture can relieve many forms of chronic pain, including the kinds of joint pain and inflammation that occurs with arthritis. While it is not completely understood how acupuncture relieves pain, evidence suggests that acupuncture has a role in regulating cytokines and other key inflammatory factors, and can be used as an alternative to opioid pain medication.
While more robust research is needed to fully explore the impact of acupuncture on arthritis, existing studies are promising. One systematic review of sixteen trials found that “acupuncture was associated with clinically relevant short- and long-term improvements in pain and function” for participants suffering from osteoarthritis. Another review of ten trials exploring the impact of acupuncture on osteoarthritis concluded that “acupuncture should be considered a viable adjunct or alternative treatment of knee pain and dysfunction associated with osteoarthritis.”
A Holistic Approach to Pain Relief
Osteoarthritis is a chronic condition that can limit your mobility and cause you persistent pain. If you are looking for a non-pharmaceutical option for obtaining relief from these unpleasant symptoms, make an appointment with an acupuncturist who can develop a customized treatment plan to address your unique needs. Your healer will work with your body’s natural rhythms and systems to encourage balance and relief from pain.
Inner Works Acupuncture offers Five Element acupuncture and holistic healing services to clients throughout the Portland metropolitan area. Call (503) 227-2127 today to schedule an appointment.