Arthritis is a very common problem. In fact, most of us by the age of 50 will have some ‘wear and tear’ in a couple of joints, usually resulting in minor aches and stiffness. However, for some people this can lead to more intense pain, swelling and stiffness as the soft tissue in a joint becomes inflamed.
In my clinic, I regularly use acupuncture to help relieve the pain and stiffness of arthritis.
Research into acupuncture is increasing our understanding of how acupuncture can ease the pain and inflammation of arthritis by influencing our biochemistry. It is thought that acupuncture can stimulate nerves, leading to release of pain-relieving endorphins. Also, it can inhibit the activity of chemicals called cytokines, known to be mediators of inflammation, such as interleukin, IL-1, IL-6 as well as TNF-alpha. In addition, needling can increase the blood flow through tissues helping to reduce swelling, flush away the mediators of inflammation and bring oxygen and nutrients to the affected tissues. 1
Because of this growing body of evidence, the World Health Organisation has recognised arthritis as a “condition for which the therapeutic effect of acupuncture has been shown” and the Osteoarthritis Research Society International recommends acupuncture as a treatment option for osteoarthritis. A recent report by Arthritis Research UK showed that acupuncture was the best researched and most effective complementary therapy for treating osteoarthritis, fibromyalgia and low back pain.