An autoimmune condition, arthritis is known for its chronic and inflammatory nature. While the pain and inflammation cannot be avoided, they can definitely be managed better with acupuncture.

An ancient practice in Traditional Chinese Medicine, acupuncture is often used in conjunction with other therapies and as an alternative to pain medication, as it quickly reduces inflammation and the associated pain.

Speaking about acupuncture in the treatment of arthritis, Tom Ingegno, a licensed acupuncturist practicing in Baltimore area says, “Acupuncture targets and diminishes pain by releasing tight, spasmed muscles to their resting state.”

How Acupuncture Works
Acupuncture is based on the belief that a vital life force called ‘qi’ (pronounced chee) flows through the body along 12 channels (meridians) and controls the working of your body. Acupuncturists place needles along channels in specific points to normalize the flow and alleviate the pain and swelling.

“It stimulates specific acupoints on the body, which not only reduce inflammation but also relax muscles and increase circulation, shortening the recovery time. This helps in removing the blockage in the energy channels, or meridians, in the body. These meridians flow like rivers of energy along regular pathways, nourishing the body’s tissues and organs. A blockage of these ‘rivers’ is like a dam, holding back the natural flow of energy and causing an imbalance that manifests as pain and sickness,” says Dr Samantha Traylor, a licensed acupuncturist, chiropractor and physical therapist from Texas.  Acupuncture helps:

  • Stimulate the body’s natural healing process.
  • Promote emotional and physical well-being.
  • Boost the endocrine and immune function.
  • Invigorate the nervous system, which stimulates the release of natural pain-fighting endorphinsin the brain, spinal cord and muscles.
  • Regulate the body’s involuntary functions such as immune reactions, digestion, temperature and blood flow.

What Science Says
Several studies reaffirm the efficiency of acupuncture in relieving arthritis symptoms, especially pain. Acupuncture not only plays a significant role in managing rheumatoid arthritis (RA) [3] , but also osteoarthritis (OA) [4] and fibromyalgia.[5] Experts say that it may be an excellent way to delay the progression of arthritis if patients come in at the first signs of joint pain and stiffness.

Along with acupuncture, people suffering from arthritis should be mindful of their dietary and exercise habits. Certain foods such as dairy, gluten and processed foods must be avoided. Include more inflammation-fighting foods such as greens, salmon, berries, nuts and flaxseeds. Regular exercises such as walking and yoga can solve problems with mobility, while also improving your overall health.

Read More:
Natural Remedies To Treat Arthritis
Relieve It With A Herb: Turmeric For Rheumatoid Arthritis
Tips To Travel Pain-Free With Arthritis
Quick Fix: Cherries For Arthritis

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1. Kavoussi B, Ross BE. The neuroimmune basis of anti-inflammatory acupuncture. Integr Cancer Ther. 2007 Sep;6(3):251-7. Review. PubMed PMID: 17761638.

2. Zijlstra FJ, van den Berg-de Lange I, Huygen FJ, Klein J. Anti-inflammatory actions of acupuncture. Mediators Inflamm. 2003 Apr;12(2):59-69. Review. PubMed PMID: 12775355; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC1781596.

3. Usichenko TI, Ivashkivsky OI, Gizhko VV. Treatment of rheumatoid arthritis with electromagnetic millimeter waves applied to acupuncture points–a randomized double blind clinical study. Acupunct Electrother Res. 2003;28(1-2):11-8. PubMed PMID: 12934956.

4. Cao L, Zhang XL, Gao YS, Jiang Y. Needle acupuncture for osteoarthritis of the knee. A systematic review and updated meta-analysis. Saudi Med J. 2012 May;33(5):526-32. Review. PubMed PMID: 22588814.

5. Martin DP, Sletten CD, Williams BA, Berger IH. Improvement in fibromyalgia symptoms with acupuncture: results of a randomized controlled trial. Mayo Clin Proc. 2006 Jun;81(6):749-57. PubMed PMID: 16770975.