Arthritis simply means inflammation of the joints. There are two main types of arthritis – osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. Osteoarthritis is characterized by degeneration of articular cartilage, hypertrophy of bone at the margins and changes in synovial membranes. This is the type of arthritis where the cartilage in joints wears away and leads to pain, weakness and deformities of the joints. That is why osteoarthritis is also known as degenerative arthritis or degenerative joint disease. Rheumatoid arthritis, however, is an inflammatory disease thought to be caused by a mistaken immune system attack on the joints (an autoimmune disorder). It is known more for hot, swollen, painful joints with decreased range of motion.
Both types of arthritis are common problems for many Americans, especially those individuals age 60 or older. Not only does it interfere with daily routines once it sets in, but it progressively worsens as one ages. Unfortunately, arthritis culminates in severe debilitation and joint deformation. The reason arthritis affects so many people to such a severe degree is that there are very few effective treatments for it. For the most part sufferers are given anti-inflammatory drugs. When these do not work, surgery and joint replacement are the next option. Those inflicted with arthritis are offered limited help with symptoms, and very few treatments to stop the diseases’ progression.
The Effect of Acupuncture on Arthritis
Acupuncture can increase blood circulation to joints, and thus their absorption of calcium as well as the removal of noxious elements. It can also increase the production of synovial fluid to keep joints better lubricated. In addition it reduces inflammation and swelling as it stops pain. These well documented effects of acupuncture are what allow it to treat both types of arthritis. Acupuncture treatments can therefore eliminate the symptoms of arthritis and slow down the progression of the disease. And it is able to do this without any of the long-term side-effects associated with most anti-inflammatory drugs used for arthritis.
When considering acupuncture for the treatment of arthritis there are some important considerations to keep in mind. The fastest results will be seen in patients with a relatively short history of either type of arthritis. Those with chronic cases of 10 or more years with arthritis will need 8 to 10 acupuncture treatments to notice a positive change in their condition. The longer a person has arthritis, the longer it may take to eliminate the symptoms. While acupuncture cannot reverse any deformity of the joint that has already occurred, it can slow down and stop further destruction and additional negative symptoms. It is commonly combined with Chinese herbal medicine to strengthen the results. In tandem with herbs, or by itself, acupuncture offers arthritis sufferers a legitimate and effective option to reduce the symptoms that negatively impact their lives and stop the disease’s worsening progression.