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Acupuncture & Oriental Medicine

Acupuncture for Arthritis Pain

Acupuncture proves effective for arthritis pain according to German study.

More than 46 million Americans suffer from arthritis and another 23 million have chronic joint pain that isn’t yet formally diagnosed.

I’ve used acupuncture for arthritis pain with patients for many years and I can attest to its effectiveness. Now there is a more formal study demonstrating this. In addition I’ve found a way to substantially improve people’s degree of relief, but more about that later.

Proof of Acupuncture’s Effectiveness for Arthritis

The study, done in Germany in 2006, demonstrated that acupuncture improves arthritis pain relief 36% better than conventional treatments alone. In this study over 3,200 arthritis sufferers who received acupuncture immediately after diagnosis were rated for pain relief against 310 who were not given acupuncture treatments until 3 months later.

This improvement was measured on the widely used WOMAC scale, which measures the degree of pain, stiffness, and how well the joint works. The lower the score on this scale, the less pain there is. At the start of treatment the patients’ scores on the scale were about 50.

The acupuncture patients received 15 sessions in the first three months, about one a week. At the end of this time, these patients had WOMAC scores of around 30, while the control group still waiting for treatment were unchanged.

Even considering additional factors, the improvement from acupuncture was 36 per cent better than those not treated.

The researchers came to the conclusion that adding acupuncture to the normal treatment regimes — which generally consists of anti-inflammatory drugs — produced “a clinically relevant and persistent benefit.”

The Practical Implications

This is great news for people who are concerned about the possible side effects of commonly prescribed medications for arthritis. Drugs such as Celebrex®, Vioxx® and others have demonstrated a dangerous tendency to increase the risk of strokes and heart attacks. So, at the very least, acupuncture treatments can reduce dependency on these drugs.

However there is a greater benefit possible. For many people, the value of acupuncture treatments is greatly enhanced when we include herbal remedies along with dietary changes. In some cases people are able to completely discontinue medications by taking this approach.

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