Rheumatism and Arthritis

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How can acupuncture help an arthritis sufferer
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According to the Joint Commission on the Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations, approximately one-third of Americans will experience chronic pain at some point in their lives. Approximately 50 million Americans are living with chronic pain and it is the number one cause of adult disability in the United States. One such chronic pain disease is arthritis, also known as joint inflammation. Although arthritis sufferers can experience joint pain at any time during the year, it is exacerbated during the cooler months. 

Changes in temperature and atmospheric pressure, affects the joints, according to a report in the Proceedings of the Western Pharmacology Society in 2004. The authors of the study found that patients suffering with osteoarthritis had an increased level of joint pain in low atmospheric pressure (associated with inclement and windy weather) and those with rheumatoid arthritis also suffered with lower temperatures.  It is believed that inflamed joints swell as barometric pressure drops, thus, irritating the surrounding nerves causing pain and stiffness.

The National Institute of Health (NIH) along with the World Health Organization (WHO) has recognized acupuncture as a viable treatment option for many ailments, including the various debilitating forms of arthritis.  In an article from Arthritis Today, from the Arthritis Foundation, reported that "The largest acupuncture study ever conducted shows that the technique significantly reduced pain and improved function for 570 patients with knee osteoarthritis who had moderate or severe pain despite taking anti-inflammatory or pain medications. The study also showed that acupuncture, like many complementary treatments, requires patience. Although people in the study had a 40 percent reduction in pain from acupuncture, they did not begin to benefit significantly more than the sham acupuncture group until week 14 of the 26-week study"

What is acupuncture?
Acupuncture is a traditional Chinese medicine that has been around for over 2500 years.  The ancient Chinese believed that there is energy flowing through pathways throughout our bodies that can have an affect on our health.  When the energy is not flowing properly in the pathways, it can create pain and other health issues.  The manipulation of hair-fine needles stimulate the body in order to restore energy flow and balance in the body.

How can acupuncture help an arthritis sufferer?
The application of the needles in certain spots of the body will have an analgesic effect on the pain sufferer by affecting dopamine. Conventional medicine believes that changes in dopamine will have an affect on endorphins, the body's own natural pain reliever and anti-inflammatory. In 2004, a radiologist team from Harvard Medical School used Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) to view changes of blood flow in the brain when the acupuncture needles were applied to points that are believed, in traditional Chinese practice, to affect pain. The radiologists noted changes of blood flow in areas of the brain that are full of dopamine. Thus, the pain sufferer did not feel the pain when the endorphins were released through the needle applications and manipulation.

What can be expected during a treatment of acupuncture?
After a thorough assessment of the patient and health concerns, a licensed acupuncturist will prepare a treatment plan and point prescription. The patient will then lie down on a table with only the areas to be treated exposed.  Then the areas to be treated are wiped with alcohol and the hair-fine, disposable, needles are inserted into the skin.  The treatment usually lasts for 20-30 minutes, once or twice per week, depending on the condition.  Results will vary from person to person.

 Key words:  ArthritisRheumatoid ArthritisGout

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