If you have arthritis, you are probably very aware of the pain and inflammation in your joints and body that is caused by this chronic condition. It may increase during a flare and then subside at other times, but for most people with this chronic pain, it never entirely disappears. Medications, rest, exercise may all be part of your arsenal to help treat your pain. One option that you may not have considered yet is acupuncture. It has taken some time, but acupuncture is slowly becoming mainstream in the treatment of arthritis and providing one more option to help with the pain. The research results are coming in and helping to answer the question– can acupuncture help with my arthritis pain?
In existence over 2000 years, acupuncture addresses the blocks that occur in the flow of energy throughout the body. Energy flows through 20 pathways, called meridians. When blockages occur in the meridians, illness and pain can result. Acupuncture involves the placement of tiny needles at precise points in the body near nerves where the blockages occur. The insertion of needles causes a release of chemicals called endorphins that block the pain message from being delivered to the brain. Acupuncture is known for restoring the balance in the flow of energy or life force, called Qi (pronounced “chee”).
The New York Times reported in an article, “Acupuncture Provides True Pain Relief in Study,” by Anahad O’Connor, that a recent study has revealed that acupuncture helped people with osteoarthritis, migraines, and chronic back, neck, and shoulder pain, manage chronic pain. Quoting Dr. Andrew J. Vickers, attending research methodologist at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York, the article states that that according to research funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), at the end of treatment, about half of the patients treated with true acupuncture reported improvements, compared with about 30 percent of patients in the study who did not undergo it.
An article in Arthritis Today provides a simple explanation – acupuncture can tell the body where the battle is occurring, just like when you cut your hand and the body sends help to the injury site. Acupuncture is finally receiving acceptance in the medical community as alternative treatment, and often the preferred form of treatment, for dealing with the chronic pain of arthritis.
Although acupuncture provides a drug-free way to minimize pain, people suffering from arthritis should consult their healthcare provider before beginning acupuncture, as it may be necessary to incorporate physical therapy and/or medication into the treatment plan. Because insurance companies vary on treatment coverage, insurance providers should be consulted prior to beginning acupuncture to understand what coverage is available.