Arthritis is an inflammatory condition of a joint typically marked by pain and limited range of motion. This condition is usually worse in the morning or after an extended sedentary period. While arthritis has several causes, the most common ones include ‘wear and tear’ on the articular surfaces of the joint and joint damage from acute or traumatic injury.
How Acupuncture Treats Arthritis
- Reduces pain at site of joint by improving circulation
- Moves blood to joint periphery to heal tissue
- Relieves inflammation locally
- Creates a systemic endorphin response creating a sense of wellness
New Theories on the Cause of Arthritis
Modern research suggests arthritis may actually be a circulatory problem. The micro-vessels feeding the cartilage at the end of the bone become blocked by thick blood (blood high in lipids) and can no longer feed the tissue causing necrosis (death). In this case, that cartilage tissue may leak into the joint triggering an inflammatory reaction. There is a potentially important connection here between type II diabetes and osteoarthritis.
NIH: Acupuncture Effective for Knee Pain
According to the National Institute for Health (NIH) and the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH), acupuncture is more effective than placebo for treatment of several conditons including osteoarthritis of the knee. Below are two highlight from a complete discussion on the NCCIH website (refererence: https://nccih.nih.gov/health/arthritis/osteoarthritis In a 2008 NCCIH-funded systematic review of randomized controlled trials of acupuncture for OA of the knee, researchers examined 10 trials involving 1,456 participants. The authors concluded that these studies provide evidence that acupuncture is effective for pain and improving mobility in people with OA.
Authors of a 2010 systematic review looked at the effects of acupuncture in people with OA in peripheral joints of the body—knee, hip, or hand. The reviewers examined 16 trials involving 3,498 people and found that although acupuncture, when compared to a sham treatment, showed statistically significant, short-term improvements in osteoarthritis pain, the benefits were small and not clinically relevant (useful in a clinical setting). In contrast, the reviewers also found that acupuncture, when compared to a waiting list control, showed statistically significant and clinically relevant benefits in people with peripheral joint osteoarthritis. The researchers suggest the beneficial effects in the latter studies were due in part to expectation or placebo effects.