Acupuncture is a Chinese medicine that has been around for hundreds of years. It was little known in the West until a journalist from the New York Times was given it to help the post operative pain after an appendectomy. But does acupuncture for osteoarthritis work?
There is evidence that stimulating acupuncture points enables are signals to be relayed at a greater rate through the body. These signals may start the flow of pain-killing bio chemicals, such as endorphins, and of immune cells to target sites in the body that are injured and are in pain.
Research has also found several types of opioids may be released into the central nervous system during acupuncture treatment, thereby reducing pain. That is how I believe acupuncture for osteoarthritis is successful at reducing pain we suffer.
Studies have shown acupuncture may affect the nervous system by altering brain chemistry by changing the release of neurotransmitters and neurohormones which are involved in us feeling pain. Acupuncture also has been shown to affect the parts of the central nervous system related to sensation and involuntary body functions, such as immune reactions and processes whereby a person’s blood pressure, blood flow and body temperature are regulated.
How Does Acupuncture for Osteoarthritis Work?
Sherril Sego, FNP-C, DNP from The Clinical Advisor wrote this excellent article on acupuncture for osteoarthritis and chronic low back pain. She explains the treatment very well saying:
It involves the use of sharp, thin needles that are inserted into the body at meridian points. By using meridian points, the qi — or vital energy and life force in eastern philosophy — is harnessed to control the flow of energy. Acupuncture is believed to adjust and alter the body’s energy flow into healthier patterns, and is used to treat a wide variety of illnesses and health conditions.
Acupuncturists use very fine sterile, disposable, stainless steel needles (0.18-0.51 mm) with the upper part of the needle shaft covered in plastic to give the practitioner a handle of sorts. The actual depth of insertion and choice of trigger points along the meridians, or energy pathways, is determined at the discretion of the individual practitioner.
Is Acupuncture Safe?
I agree with the article.
Typically, acupuncture is perceived to carry a low risk for adverse events. However, the risk of infection is always present when a foreign object is being inserted into the body.
Such minor side effects of acupuncture as needle-site pain and bleeding occur in up to 11% of cases. In rare cases, serious adverse events do occur. Pneumothorax and cardiac tamponade were noted in studies, as were hepatitis C and HIV infection. The risk for hepatitis and HIV, however, were directly correlated to the individual acupuncturist.
I used acupuncture for osteoarthritis and many other conditions when I was in practice. I had a couple of people feel faint but it was usually when they looked at the needles sticking out of them! (Luckily they were lying down so no great problem!) but reactions were minimal as I was very sterile conscious.
The biggest problem with acupuncture for osteoarthritis is the cost. The article gives these figures:
with the average charge for eight to 10 treatment sessions ranging from $600-$1,200.
That is an expensive treatment unless your insurance pays for it.
Should You Have Acupuncture for Osteoarthritis?
Yes but only if you are not in the slightest needle phobic and only if your insurance covers it or you can afford it. There are cheaper home treatments that are good alternatives to try before acupuncture for osteoarthritis. However you have to have the self motivation to do them of a regular basis.
It’s your call but click on the link and sign up for my free 3 day course to learn more about the cheaper home treatments.