Sunday, March 13, 2011

Doctor - Does Acupuncture Work for Arthritis?

traditional Chinese medicine, acupuncture is used to relieve pain and to cure diseases. During the acupuncture sessions, the doctor will insert a thin needle into the skin at one of more than 2,000 carefully defined meridian points. ancient theories of why acupuncture is effective to insert the needle back Qi (life force) flow through channels in the body. When Qi is the optimal level, there is harmony with the universal forces of yin and yang. This leads to improved health and relief of pain.

While traditional acupuncture approach is to use the needles themselves, modern acupuncturists can rotate the needle or use low-level electrical current to enhance the effectiveness of the procedure. Sometimes, acupressure is also given during the same session. Moxibustion is the use of herbs that are burned during the procedure is also used. Some practitioners also use the "cupping", which is a method where the suction cups are applied on the meridian points.

Theories of how acupuncture relieves pain involved "gate theory" which suggests that pain signals travel along nerve pathways through the doorway. If a competing stimulus, such as acupuncture needles, then the pain signals are blocked.

Another theory has to do with the release of endorphins in the brain due to acupuncture stimulus. Another theory is that acupuncture helps to produce an analgesic neurotransmitters in the spinal cord.

One large study of acupuncture in osteoarthritis of the knee was performed at the University of Maryland. The researchers compared traditional Chinese acupuncture with fake acupuncture (using needles or drawing or a real needle inserted into the false pressure points). The study group included 570 patients who reported limited use of anti-inflammatory drugs and exercise.

study showed statistically significant improvement in both measures of pain and mobility measures in patients who received real acupuncture compared to the fake acupuncture.

authors concluded that "the true traditional Chinese acupuncture is safe and effective for reducing pain and improving function in patients with symptomatic osteoarthritis of the knee who have moderate or greater pain despite background therapy."

Some notes of caution. effect of acupuncture in relieving pain is not great. effects are modest and do not take time. Another issue is that the placebo effect undoubtedly enters into the equation.

interesting study from Dr George Lewith in Southampton, England, uses the technology of positron emission to prove that blood flow through the brain was altered in a different way of true acupuncture compared with sham acupuncture, therefore, the concept of checking real pain modulating effect of acupuncture on the brain.

Unfortunately, acupuncture does not take a long time to work. Dr. Hochberg of the University of Maryland says, "You really have to give acupuncture ... six months to get the maximum benefit from it."

Another downside is the cost. Generally, the charge was 60-100 U.S. dollars session. Expect it to cost around $ 2,000.00. Fortunately, some insurance carriers will cover the cost.

Acupuncture will not be a substitute for conventional treatment. Need to use it along with your regular arthritis treatment. Make sure you see a licensed practitioner.

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