Arthritis means “joint inflammation” and it is a general term for a group of more than one hundred diseases. Some types of arthritis also affect other parts of the body, including the skin and internal organs. One out of three Americans suffer from arthritis with 70% of them under the age of 65.¹
A study funded by two branches of the National Institutes of Health found that acupuncture significantly relieved pain and eased movement for patients with arthritic knees who were taking pain medication. The study involved 570 patients who reported a 40 percent improvement in pain and function after 14 weeks of acupuncture.²
“Acupuncture seems to help some people, and it appears to be safe. If you’re uncomfortable and in pain and you don’t want to take medication, acupuncture may be a reasonable approach.” – Dr. Gary Firestein, director of the University of California, San Diego’s division of rheumatology, allergy and immunology.
The most common type of arthritis, OA occurs when the tissue (cartilage) covering the end of the bones gradually wears away. This happens with age and overuse and can affect any joint in the body. Without the cushioning protection of the cartilage, the friction of the bones rubbing against each other causes pain and swelling.
Ten trials representing 1456 participants … provide[d] evidence that acupuncture is an effective treatment for pain and physical dysfunction associated with osteoarthritis of the knee.³
RA is an autoimmune disorder whereby the body’s own defence system mistakenly causes inflammation in the joint lining. This causes damage to the neighbouring cartilage and bone.
Combining standard treatment of RA with acupuncture has been found to improve the results of drug treatment. 4
Gout occurs when the body cannot properly excrete a natural substance called uric acid. Excess uric acid creates sharp crystals in the joints (especially the big toe, knee, and wrists) that cause inflammation and severe pain.
The results of the studies included here suggest that acupuncture is efficacious as complementary therapy for gouty arthritis patients. 5
Because each type of arthritis has different causes and symptoms, treatment will vary accordingly.
¹ Prevalence of Self-Reported Arthritis or Chronic Joint Symptoms Among Adults – United States, 2001. MMWR 2002;51(42):948-950
² Vas, J. British Medical Journal, Nov. 20, 2004; vol 329: pp 1216-1219.
³ Selfe TK, Taylor AG. The use of acupuncture reflexotherapy in treating patients with rheumatoid arthritis. Fam Community Health. 2008 Jul-Sep;31(3):247-54.
4 Zherebkin VV. The use of acupuncture reflexotherapy in treating patients with rheumatoid arthritis. Lik Sprava 6: 175-7. Nov-Dec 1997
5 Lee WB, Woo SH et al. Acupuncture for gouty arthritis: a concise report of a systematic and meta-analysis approach. Rheumatology (Oxford). 2013 Jul;52(7):1225-32.