Did you know that acupuncture can help reduce the pain associated with both osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis?
Even though these two types of joint pain have different root causes, research shows that acupuncture can be helpful for both.
In a 2019 randomized controlled trial, acupuncture was found to reduce pain and improve mobility in osteoarthritis of the knee. They compared acupuncture together with usual care (typically NSAIDs) compared to usual care alone. In other words, adding acupuncture to what you are already doing can help reduce your pain levels even further.
In another systematic review of osteoarthritis of the knee, researchers noted that acupuncture was more effective than western medicine. They also noted that acupuncture had fewer side effects than western medical treatment.
Although a lot of osteoarthritis research has been done specifically on the knee, I also have patients who have found it to be incredibly helpful in managing arthritis pain in other joints as well. For example, arthritis of the hip, vertebrae of the neck or low back, and the hand/fingers.
In another recent study, researchers found that acupuncture had a positive effect on pain relief, physical function and health-related quality of life outcomes in rheumatoid arthritis patients.
How many treatments do you need for arthritis?
A typical course of treatment for arthritis is once a week for 6-8 weeks. Acupuncture is cumulative, meaning its effects increase over time. So the goal is for you to feel a little better for a little longer after each treatment.
After a series of weekly treatments, we would evaluate how you’re feeling and try to space out the treatments. For example, trying to go two weeks between treatments and seeing how you feel. Then, most of my arthritis patients come in for maintenance treatments about once a month.
People often use acupuncture AFTER they have significant pain. But the truth is that it is also very good at PREVENTING pain when you get regular acupuncture treatments. If you know that your pain is worse with cold weather, for example, you may want to come more often before the change of seasons to try to prevent a severe flare-up once the cold weather hits.
Each person responds differently, of course, and this estimate can vary based on your age, how long you’ve been living with arthritis, as well as the severity of your condition. Generally, the longer and more severe, the more treatments are required to manage the pain.
It’s all about reducing your pain as much as possible. I want to help you get back to the activities you really love – like gardening, running around after your grandkids, or whatever you enjoy!