Rheumatoid Arthritis is a chronic, inflammatory systemic illness affecting the entire human body, but more so the joints. It is classified as an autoimmune disorder, which means the immune system in the body mistakenly starts attacking the body instead of fighting off infections, damaging healthy tissues in the process.
One of the most commonly encountered symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis is joint pain. People suffering from pain conditions, such as RA-connected joint pain, may find a solution using acupuncture. Acupuncture is not a cure for rheumatoid arthritis, but it may provide much-needed relief from joint pain you can rely on.
How Acupuncture Works
Acupuncture stimulates a series of points across the body called acupoints. This is done through the use of fine, thin and sterilised needles. They may or may not be located at the place where the symptoms are occurring.
Studies show that most of the acupoint clusters are located near nerves in the body. Whenever a needle is placed, patients will feel soreness and tingling or even electrical sensations as the nerves are getting activated. Needle placement activates the nerve, then sends signals to the spinal cord and the brain, the pain centres of your nervous system. These are activated, releasing the body’s natural pain relief response - endorphins.
What Can It Do?
Studies have shown some evidence pointing toward acupuncture helping patients with chronic pain, one that lasts more than three months and can relieve back pain disability. Acupuncture has also been found to help treat lower back pain and other conditions, such as fibromyalgia, osteoarthritis, headaches and carpal tunnel syndrome.
Acupuncture Treatment and Rheumatoid Arthritis
Acupuncture has not been shown to help prevent joint damage, with study data conflicting on whether acupuncture can help control inflammation. Even though there is no definite proof that acupuncture may reduce inflammation, this has been reported occasionally.
Acupuncture may help with RA-related pain, just like it does with other types of pain, by stimulating the production of endorphins. It is a good tool for dealing with pain, with minimal side effects, and can be undertaken alongside medication treatments. Acupuncture must never be used as the single source of treatment for RA but as an additional treatment instead, combined with other medications for RA.
What to Expect at an Acupuncture Appointment
Whether the practitioner is a licensed non-physician acupuncturist or a medical doctor, their credentials must be displayed in their office. When the practitioner places the needles, they may be stimulated electrically or manually, possibly alongside a warming lamp. Acupuncture needles are much thinner than injection hypodermics, so the insertion won’t feel any more painful than a mosquito bite. The patient may feel sore or tingly or feel like an electrical sensation is being released when the needles are being manipulated. The patient may feel a sense of relaxation and calm during treatment.
The patient should communicate any concerns before they undergo treatment and note any possible ways to contact the practitioner if any assistance is needed. Sometimes, the practitioner may leave the room when the needles are placed, allowing the patient time to relax.
Acupuncture is a safe and effective treatment for rheumatoid arthritis, but it is not a substitute for the actual disease-modifying medical treatments that may be necessary. You should always consult your physician before you start treatments, so you can reach a consensus on whether or not this treatment is a good fit for you.