In our latest blog post, we talked about how Rheumatoid Arthritis is viewed in both eastern and western medicine. Eastern and western medicine, when combined, can significantly reduce pain and other symptoms that come with the common disease.
How Acupuncture is Used to Treat RA
By inserting thin needles around the inflamed joint areas, acupuncture can work at a deep level by promoting blood flow and movement, to unblock any energy blockages and stagnation that may be creating the uncomfortable, swollen feeling about which many patients complain. Acupuncture provides many therapeutic benefits: Alleviate joint pain, reduce inflammation and swelling, provide relaxation to the body, and promote a general anesthesia and lessened pain by stimulating the release of endorphins — the body’s natural pain killers.
Additionally, acupuncture strengthens the immune system to help prevent any other associated illnesses and balance the nervous system to relax the body and mind. In so doing, it helps minimize the stress that often appears simultaneously to disease.
Lastly, acupuncture does not provide any harmful side effects that prescribed medications often present.
There have been many studies conducted on the efficacy of acupuncture on RA, and the results have been mixed. Many of these studies were inconclusive in finding significant benefits of acupuncture on pain, or how to measure a reduction on swollen joints as compared to controlled treatments. However, some studies showed two factors associated with chronic inflammation decreased; Tumor Necrosis Factor- alpha (TNF-α,) and Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor (VEGF). The mechanism of how this occurs is still unknown and needs further evaluation. Researchers and physicians believe acupuncture works deeply on both the peripheral and central nervous systems effecting the immunological, neurological, hormonal, and psychological systems. The more studies that are employed showing the reduction in inflammatory markers will provide evidence-based medicine to support the use of acupuncture in the treatment of RA.
Acupuncture and the relief of RA symptoms is often experiential and anecdotal. Patients report a great deal of relief with the associated inflammation, swelling, and pain attributed to RA. If you are experiencing any of these uncomfortable symptoms, acupuncture is a good adjunct therapy to help manage the discomfort. A treatment strategy will be designed according to your specific needs and symptoms, including the use of needles, electro acupuncture, and often herbs or supplements, and dietary changes will be recommended to help alleviate symptoms. The number of treatments vary on the severity and stage of the disease.