Under this heading, you will find an introduction to acupuncture for joint problems, including osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, general stiffness, and rheumatic aches and pains.
In 2013, medical research charity Arthritis Research UK, published a report looking at the evidence for the effectiveness and safety of twenty-five complementary therapies commonly used by people with musculoskeletal pain. Acupuncture was the most effective therapy for treating osteoarthritis.
Arthritis and related conditions, are the most common long-term complaint in the UK: they are thought to affect more than nine million adults. In the 35 to 44 age group, 18% of people have experienced arthritis or joint pain; this rises to 49% in the 55 to 64 age group. Acupuncture has been found in research to be very effective in helping sufferers manage the condition. It can help with pain relief without the side-effects associated with drugs, and it can help stiffness and improve range of movement.
Beginning with osteoarthritis, you might already have had a diagnosis from your GP, or even an X-ray of the affected joint. In general, I find osteoarthritis is quite responsive to acupuncture, and because it is a degenerative condition, the sooner you start treatment, the better the results tend to be: acupuncture is unable to reverse significant joint damage which has already occurred. My realistic objectives are to reduce the pain, reduce your intake of painkillers and anti-inflammatories, and to slow further deterioration of the joint. Knees, hips and fingers present for treatment most commonly in my practice, but other joints crop up aswell.
Moving to rheumatoid arthritis, patients I see are usually under the regular care of either their rheumatologist or GP, and acupuncture can work effectively alongside any medication which has been prescribed. Because a systemic disease process is at work here, there is a greater need to treat the underlying imbalances which Chinese medicine is capable of identifying, aswell as attending more locally to the most painful joints.
Finally, we have general stiffness problems and those rheumatic aches and pains which might have defied clear diagnosis. Sometimes, the symptoms are focal at the site of an old injury. Other times, they are more widespread, and so we bear in mind possiblities such as the pains being menopausal, induced as side-effects of medication, or arising from other diseases. I need to fully examine the surrounding area, find out all about your lifestyle, and I will ask you about the influence of the weather on your joints; if it is a factor, I find patients are most likely to report damp, cold or sudden weather changes affect them.
Diet and lifestyle can be crucial when helping joint problems, and I will often give you some self-help measures to implement. These will usually be simple but effective.
Below you can read the results of some of the research which has been undertaken into acupuncture for joint problems.