Acupuncture for Rheumatoid Arthritis and Arthritic Conditions

Managing Your Arthritis Flareups

Most people are familiar with the term arthritis, which may conjure up images of twisted, knobby fingers or achy knees, but did you know there are over 100 different types of arthritis? Learn how acupuncture and Oriental Medicine can address the specific types of arthritis known to induce flare-ups, which are sudden escalations in the severity of symptoms.

Some arthritic conditions that are prone to flare-ups:

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA): a chronic, autoimmune disease in which the body's immune system attacks joint tissue. The synovial fluid that encases the joints thickens due to inflammation. This can cause pain and structural deformities. Other symptoms include fatigue and fever.

Osteoarthritis (OA): also called degenerative joint disease. When cartilage, the protective cushioning found between the bones, starts eroding away, symptoms of OA may result. This can cause pain, visible swelling and difficulty moving the afflicted joint.

Psoriatic arthritis: a particular type of arthritis associated with the skin condition psoriasis. The most common symptoms include joint swelling, redness, and pain. Severe cases may result in misshapen joints.

Often the reason behind a flare-up is obvious. Dampness pervading the air before a rainstorm or overusing arthritic joints may trigger symptoms. Other times, the exact cause remains a mystery. However, no matter the origin of a flare-up, acupuncture and Oriental Medicine can help.

Meta Analysis Finds Acupuncture Effective for Rheumatoid Arthritis Symptom Relief

The medical journal Evidence-based Complementary and Alternative Medicine published a study entitled "Clinical Efficacy of Acupuncture on Rheumatoid Arthritis and Associated Mechanisms: A Systemic Review," in April of 2018. This scientific review highlights the benefits of using acupuncture to address symptoms associated with rheumatoid arthritis (RA).

Researchers reviewed several medical databases worldwide to find high-quality studies focusing on the efficacy of using acupuncture alone, or in combination with other treatments, for rheumatoid arthritis patients. In the end, 43 studies were deemed adequate for the meta-analysis.

Each of the individual studies used standardized medical tools to evaluate the effect of acupuncture on their patients. Tools used included the visual analog scale, pain disability index, TCM symptom scoring, 10-meter walk test, grip power test, American College of Rheumatology 20, quality of life questionnaire, health assessment questionnaire, Pittsburgh sleep quality index scale, and the depression, anxiety, and stress scale.

Throughout the viable studies, researchers noticed the most frequent acupuncture point used was Stomach 36 followed by Gall Bladder 34, Large Intestine 4, Urinary Bladder 60, and Gall Bladder 39.

Researchers concluded that acupuncture is a safe, effective method to treat symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis. It is especially useful in improving patient quality of life. Acupuncture is highly recommended as there are no toxic side effects. This is in sharp contrast to pharmaceutical treatments, which are known to provoke adverse reactions.

Source: Chou, P. C., & Chu, H. Y. (2018). Clinical Efficacy of Acupuncture on Rheumatoid Arthritis and Associated Mechanisms: A Systemic Review. Evidence-based Complementary and Alternative medicine: eCAM, 2018, 8596918. doi:10.1155/2018/8596918

Effects of Electro-Stimulation With Acupuncture on Rheumatoid Arthritis

The therapeutic value of combining electro-stimulation with acupuncture for treating rheumatoid arthritis was proved in a 2011 study published in the Chinese Journal of Integrative Medicine called "Effect of electro-acupuncture (EA) on tumor necrosis factor-a (TNF-a) and vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) in peripheral blood and joint synovia of patients with rheumatoid arthritis."

The study was to determine how electro-acupuncture (EA) can lower the levels of certain cells and proteins that affect the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis. The study measured TNF-a cells, which contribute to inflammation, and VEGF proteins, which stimulate new blood vessel growth that increases the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis.

Researchers concluded that electro-acupuncture is a valuable therapy for reducing symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis by lowering VEGF and TNF-a levels. Out of 63 study participants, 32 patients in the treatment group received EA, while another 31 patients in the control group underwent acupuncture not specifically related to their condition. All patients received approximately 30 treatments in total. Although both groups experienced a drop in their TNF-a and VEGF levels, the treatment group showed a significant lowering of their VEGF levels.

Source: Ouyang, B., Gao, J., Che, J. et al. Effect of Electro-acupuncture on Tumor Necrosis Factor-a and Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor in Peripheral Blood and Joint Synovia of Patients with Rheumatoid Arthritis Chinese Journal of Integrative Medicine (2011) 17: 505.

If you struggle with arthritis, call today to see how acupuncture can help!

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