Can Acupuncture Help Arthritis ?

Arthritis Pain Introduction

Arthritis is generally described as inflammation in any joint area of your body that can affect people of all ages, races and genders. There are two common types of Arthritis: osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. Osteoarthritis is the breakdown of cartilage in your body, rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disorder.

 Background

Different types of arthritis can have different symptoms, but typical Symptoms of arthritis are pain, stiffness, swelling, redness, and decreased range of motion of the joints in the affected area. Fatigue from the symptoms may be common. Symptoms can also flare up and become more intense at any time.

Western Medicine Treatments

Arthritis is commonly treated by NSAIDS (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs), counterritants, or Disease-modifying  antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs). Methotrexate is commonly used to treat Rheumatoid Arthritis, and can be used by itself or with other pain relievers. Doctors often recommend taking a folic acid supplement with this drug. Physical therapy and moderate exercise may also help to alleviate pain. If pain is persistent and common treatments aren’t helping, surgery may be necessary. Joint replacement and joint fusion are two common surgery options.

Treating Arthritis with Acupuncture

Diagnosis.
The diagnosis is basically the same as western looking for the same symptoms and often people come to me with a western diagnosis. To confirm, I look at the location of the pain, the temperature of the area (by touch), whether there is swelling or redness. I further look at the whole health pattern such as immune issues, or other unrelated inflammation  symptoms. Frequently, I find that the pain is more muscular that arthritic.

Treatment Approach
In acupuncture, the whole story is considered as part of constructing the treatment plan.  After looking into things like stress levels, history of injuries, diet, exercise and overuse, emotional state and more,  a two part approach is devised … one part addresses the bigger picture of your overall health and the second part for the specific pain. Both parts are usually addressed in every acupuncture treatment. For example, if your complaint was your index finger, you could expect needles by the joint experiencing pain, in the same hand and wrist, some in the opposite hand and wrist, and other in the lower legs and feet. sometime points in the ear as well.

Complementary advice
Light stretching, heat or ice (depending on what make the pain feel better) , diet  is a big one, sometime herbs that can decrease inflammation.

My Experience with Treating Arthritis with Acupuncture

Arthritis is a degenerative condition that is typically related to age (but not always). No form of medical treatment can reverse the degeneration. I treat a few people a month for arthritis. My experience almost always provides immediate relief, frequently intermediate term pain elimination and sometimes long term paint reduction,  but not cure. However, the pain of arthritis can be managed with acupuncture frequently giving substantial relief. Generally, I do not use trigger point unless I detect tightness in a related muscle group