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How Acupuncture May Provide Relief for Those Afflicted With Rheumatoid Arthritis

People who suffer from pain associated with rheumatoid arthritis may find relief through a series of acupuncture treatment sessions. Acupuncture can produce an anti-inflammatory and antioxidative effect in the body, diminishing the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis.

Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease in which the body’s immune system attacks the joints, causing inflammation. With painful symptoms like joint stiffness, sensitivity, and swelling, those who are afflicted with rheumatoid arthritis are usually looking for relief. Although there is currently no cure for rheumatoid arthritis, acupuncture offers several potential benefits. 

While the exact causes of rheumatoid arthritis are not completely understood, there is some evidence to suggest that there may be a genetic component to autoimmune conditions.  It’s been said that “genetics loads the gun, and lifestyle pulls the trigger.”  If autoimmune conditions run in your family, you may be more susceptible to them.  A healthy lifestyle and proper care, including acupuncture, may help relieve symptoms and keep them in remission.

Common Symptoms of Rheumatoid Arthritis

More than 1.3 million Americans are affected by rheumatoid arthritis, according to the American College of Rheumatology. Of those affected, approximately three-fourths are women; it’s estimated that between 1 to 3 percent of women may develop rheumatoid arthritis during their lifetime. The condition often develops in individuals between the ages of 30 and 50. Typical symptoms include stiffness, pain, and decreased mobility in the joints—most often in the hands and feet. These symptoms are usually most pronounced soon after waking up, as joint mobility gradually improves as the body starts to move. People with rheumatoid arthritis have also reported feelings of decreased energy, loss of appetite, or low-grade fever.

Seeking Relief

As there is no cure for rheumatoid arthritis, Western medical treatment focuses on pain management and encouraging joint mobility. There are several pharmaceutical drugs that can be used to alleviate symptoms, decrease swelling, and manage pain. These drugs, known as disease modifying anti-rheumatic drugs (DMARDs), such as methotrexate, leflunomide, hydroxychloroquine, and sulfasalazine, may provide relief, but certain unwanted side effects can occur, including nausea, diarrhea, rash, hair loss, and more. For those seeking a more natural treatment option, acupuncture sessions may offer an effective and holistic approach.

The Efficacy of Acupuncture Sessions for Rheumatoid Arthritis

According to a 2018 systematic review of 43 studies, researchers concluded that acupuncture treatment provides relief for people with rheumatoid arthritis. The primary mechanisms of how acupuncture addresses symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis include an anti-inflammatory effect, regulation of immune function, and antioxidative effect. Of all the studies reviewed, all but one concluded that any form of acupuncture treatment—whether used independently or in conjunction with other therapies—benefited the clinical conditions of rheumatoid arthritis. Additionally, unlike pharmaceutical drugs, no adverse side effects were reported in any of these studies. 


Inner Works Acupuncture offers holistic acupuncture and nutrition services to individuals throughout the Portland area. Call (503) 227-2127 today to schedule an appointment with us.

Inner Works Acupuncture

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