Can acupuncture help chronic pain associated with rheumatoid arthritis?

50116033 - women are through to the acupuncture clinicAcupuncture is an ancient Chinese treatment that uses very fine needles (thinner than a piece of hair) to place in various pressure points on the body. It’s been used for treating chronic pain, headaches, and anxiety. The traditional Chinese belief is that the positive energy flowing through the body can get blocked. It is believed that acupuncture can release the positive energy (Qi, pronounced chee). Acupuncture has also been said to help the release of endorphins, which can naturally provide your body with pain relief. It’s also believed by people in the field that it can have an anti-inflammatory affect. When inflammation is reduced, it can help relieve chronic pain.

Is it effective?

There have been various studies done to find out if acupuncture is an effective choice for treating pain and assisting with emotional needs. And while some of these studies have shown positive results, many of the studies have come into question by skeptics. Further research needs to be done to determine if it’s a treatment that should be recommended by Rheumatoid specialists. But, that’s not to say it won’t be effective in treating chronic pain.

The studies that have been released have shown mostly positive results. There was research that even showed that acupuncture with regular care could be more effective than counseling with regular care for those with Rheumatoid arthritis and depression. Some find acupuncture to be stress relieving and if endorphins are being released, it could explain the positive benefit in reducing depression as well as chronic pain.

One of the things that may make it difficult to get a finite answer regarding whether acupuncture is beneficial for RA is the different options. There are various acupuncturists; some are certified, and some are not. There are also various types of acupuncture, for example, electroacupuncture which sends small electric pulses through the needles. Because of the variety in the field, it can make it more difficult to determine whether it’s an effective choice for you.

Acupuncture is often used to treat symptoms of chronic pain and may provide temporarily relief for those with RA. It wouldn’t replace your current treatment, but it could be a good addition to it. Some people have had success with acupuncture while others haven’t. This may have to do with the acupuncturist or the type of treatment they had. Some individuals may feel more relaxed during the treatment, while others may find it uncomfortable. If you do find that it helps to relieve stress, it can potentially provide temporary relief to chronic pain.

Are there potential side effects?

There can be some side effects, such as soreness where the needles were inserted. Some people experience fatigue or an upset stomach afterwards. Sometimes slight bruising or muscle twitching is noted. Emotions can also sometimes be heightened from the treatment. Many people believe that the risk of these side effects is more than worth it to reap the potential benefits.

Is it the right treatment for my chronic pain?

Unfortunately, there isn’t enough evidence to say if it’s going to be an effective treatment for you. However, there are plenty of studies that indicate there is the potential to reap benefits from it, and if it does reduce chronic pain, even temporarily, it could be worthwhile. The important thing is to find a good acupuncturist. Talk to your physician and friends to see if you can find one that is recommended. You can also visit the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine to find a certified practitioner near you.

Keep in mind, you’ll probably need at least 3-6 sessions to figure out if the treatment is working for you, although your particular needs may vary. There are various types of treatments, so if one doesn’t work for you, another might. Also, you may want to check with your insurance beforehand. Insurance will sometimes cover the treatment if you have a certain diagnosis, but other insurance plans won’t. It can get a little pricey at $75 to $200 per treatment.

Acupuncture may be an effective way to treat chronic pain associated with rheumatoid arthritis. Some people have had good experiences with the treatment and it could be worth exploring in addition to your current care. Just do your research first and make sure you choose a recommended acupuncturist.


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