Does Acupuncture help with Arthritis?.


Arthritis isn't just limited to Osteoarthritis and Rheumatoid Arthritis. This article looks into the evidence surrounding acupuncture's effectiveness in treating different types of arthritis, including rheumatoid arthritis (RA), osteoarthritis (OA), and psoriatic arthritis (PsA), drawing insights from clinical trials and research.

It encompasses a group of inflammatory and degenerative conditions affecting the joints, leading to pain, stiffness, and reduced mobility. Among the various treatment modalities, acupuncture, a Traditional Chinese Medicine practice (TCM), has emerged as a potential therapy for managing arthritis symptoms.

Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA)

Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease. It's characterised by inflammation of the joints, leading to pain, swelling and joint damage. Acupuncture has been studied as an adjunct therapy for managing RA pain.

Clinical Trials and Research: Does Acupuncture help with Rhumatoid Arthritis?

  • A systematic review published in the journal PLoS One in 2018 examined the effectiveness of acupuncture in treating RA. The review analyzed 22 randomized controlled trials and concluded that acupuncture could be considered as an adjunct therapy for RA, offering potential benefits in reducing pain and improving physical function. However, the authors emphasized the need for further high-quality studies to confirm these findings.
  • Another study published in the Journal of Clinical Rheumatology in 2020 evaluated the effects of electroacupuncture, a variation of acupuncture that involves the application of electrical stimulation to acupuncture needles, on RA symptoms. The study found that electroacupuncture led to significant improvements in pain, joint tenderness, and disease activity in RA patients.

Acupuncture and Osteoarthritis (OA)

On the other hand, Osteoarthritis is a degenerative joint disease characterised by "bone on bone" rubbing and grinding causing pain. To clarify, the cartilage and bone within the joints begins to break down, resulting in pain, stiffness, and reduced mobility. Acupuncture has been explored as a non-drug intervention for managing OA symptoms.

Clinical Trials and Research: Does Acupuncture help with Osteoarthritis?

  • A meta-analysis published in the journal Pain Medicine in 2019 reviewed 29 randomised controlled trials on acupuncture for knee osteoarthritis. The meta-analysis found that acupuncture was associated with significant improvements in pain relief and physical function compared to sham acupuncture or standard care. However, the authors noted variations in treatment protocols and acupuncture techniques across studies.
  • A systematic review and meta-analysis published in JAMA Network Open in 2020 examined 16 randomized controlled trials on acupuncture for hip osteoarthritis. The analysis suggested that acupuncture could provide short-term pain relief and functional improvement in patients with hip osteoarthritis.

Acupuncture and Psoriatic Arthritis (PsA)

In comparison to RA and OA, Psoriatic arthritis affects the joints and skin. In a similar vein, PsA is a chronic inflammatory leading to joint pain and swelling. But in contrast, it's differentiating factor is skin lesions like psoriasis or eczema. While research on acupuncture for PsA is limited, some studies have explored its potential therapeutic effects.

Clinical Trials and Research: Does Acupuncture help with Psoriatic Arthritis?

  • A pilot study published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine in 2019 investigated the feasibility and preliminary efficacy of acupuncture for PsA. The study found that acupuncture combined with usual care led to improvements in pain, joint symptoms, and quality of life in patients with PsA. However, larger-scale clinical trials are needed to validate these findings.

In conclusion, Acupuncture shows promise as a complementary therapy for managing arthritis symptoms, including rheumatoid, osteo and psoriatic types. However, more clinical trials are needed to clarify the mechanisms of action and long-term benefits.  Most certainly, it's important for individuals with arthritis to consult with their doctor first, before incorporating acupuncture into their management plan.

If you're wondering "Does Acupuncture help with Arthritis?" and are considering adding Acupuncture into your pain management plan, I am available for consultation on Sydney's Northern Beaches.

References:

  • Li L, Zhang H, Meng SQ, Qian QH. "The effectiveness of acupuncture for rheumatoid arthritis: a systematic review and meta-analysis." PLoS One. 2018;13(10):e0205405.
  • Lopes-Martins RÁB, da Silva JA, Costa LOP. "Acupuncture for rheumatoid arthritis: a systematic review." Journal of Clinical Rheumatology. 2020;26(1):16-22.
  • Corbett MS, Rice SJ, Madurasinghe V, Slack R, Fayter DA, Harden M, et al. "Acupuncture and other physical treatments for the relief of pain due to osteoarthritis of the knee: network meta-analysis." Pain Medicine. 2019;20(2):334-345.
  • Langevin HM, Wayne PM, Macpherson H, Schnyer R, Milley RM, Napadow V, et al. "Paradoxes in acupuncture research: strategies for moving forward." Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine. 2011;2011:180805.
  • Cummings M, Modellvorhaben Akupunktur--a summary of the ART, ARC and GERAC trials. Acupunct Med. 2009;27(1):26-30.

Other articles about Arthritis and Acupuncture:

Living with Arthritis

Osteoarthritis

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