I hear this question a lot recently, ‘is acupuncture good for arthritis?’
Can acupuncture help arthritis pain, specifically?
In this article we are going to take a look.
So what is acupuncture?
You just let someone stick pins in to you don’t you?
Pretty much but for the sake of making this post longer, let’s look deeper.
It isn’t just a case of using your body as a human dart board though.
Acupuncture is considered a traditional Chinese medicine, which involves penetrating the skin with very fine needles at certain points on your body, to help relieve pain and promote feelings of wellness.
It is said that there are over 300 points in the body that needles can be inserted and the different points are used to relieve pain in various areas.
There is no real scientific proof or explanation of how this technique can help to relieve pains such as headaches, migraines, joint pain, but people have found great relief from it.
It is thought that the pain relief comes from the brain, that the acupuncture points that are used are points where nerves, tissue and muscle connect. By inserting the needle there, it can send signals to the brain that the pain is lessened or gone.
Most experts believe that it is this neurological effect that gives acupuncture the benefits it has, though other experts believe it is no more effective than a placebo.
A placebo is used in scientific studies, for instance in most studies there will be a group that receives a medication, for example an anti-inflammatory pill.
There will be a group that are told they are receiving this medication but in actual fact they will only be receiving sugar pills, in most cases.
The sugar pill has no physiological therapeutic effects but because the group have been told they are receiving an anti-inflammatory, they may say they feel better, because they would expect to.
Using a placebo allows scientists to see psychological responses as well as physiological. There have been many cases where placebo groups have reported an improvement in symptoms, despite them actually receiving any medication.
Some scientists say acupuncture is of a similar nature, because people are being told acupuncture can help and then they feel the needles going in, so their brain automatically tells them they will start to feel better.
Use the force
We have spoken about the scientific opinion, now we will look at the reason traditional Chinese medicine say acupuncture can be of benefit.
It is believed that our natural state should be one of a healthy state, we shouldn’t feel constantly lethargic, inflamed, in pain and any such symptoms mean that something in our body is out of balance.
The balance is referred to as ‘yin and yang’.
In essence the theory behind yin and yang refers to, the idea that opposite forces work in your body and help to regulate the correct balance.
It is said that there is also a life force energy that flows through us, that can help keep us balanced and that is called qi, which is pronounced chee.
Qi has been said to travel through our body along things called meridians, the route of these meridians is said to be different to that of the route of the nerves or the blood.
It is believed that acupuncturists know the routes of qi and manipulate them to improve our energy flow, thus making us feel better.
Is acupuncture good for arthritis?
There are different types of acupuncture available today, we have spoken particularly about the traditional Chinese method as it is thought that acupuncture originated from China.
That being said there is also Japanese, Korean versions of acupuncture as well as many more.
There are western acupuncture versions, as popularity has grown in western society that has led to an influx of western trained acupuncturists.
As for the question of, is it good for arthritis?
I will say that I have known people with arthritis in their neck, back and knees all say they have felt pain relief from acupuncture.
I once asked the question in the pain clinic at my doctors and they said because it’s my ankle they didn’t advise I have it, as there isn’t any research to say that ankle arthritis can be helped by acupuncture.
To date I have never tried it but it is always in my mind and if the pain gets bad enough I may well try it.
Should you be trying it?
I want to go back to earlier on when we spoke about the psychological effects and the placebo effect.
I do believe that some scientists maybe underestimate the power and importance of the mind when it comes to clinical trials.
I also believe that healthy is our natural state and I believe it takes different factors and ingredients, to maintain the right balance for optimal health.
The factors include diet, exercise, avoidance of toxins for example from the environment and power of the mind.
Maybe we all underestimate the power of the mind.
For example, you can’t think or wish yourself thin even if you read a book entitled that, you have to eat right to be thin as well.
The opposite is many people can’t get thin just by eating right because there mind isn’t backing them up.
The mind is saying ‘you are starving, why are you doing this to yourself when you know how good burger and cake tastes’.
This is where you can use the mentioned think yourself thin books, to strengthen your mind and improve your chances of keeping weight off.
In the same thought process, just because an expert tells you something is giving you no physiological benefit, does that mean the benefits you are feeling are a placebo or fake?
Or does it mean that it is giving you a psychological benefit and one that you vitally need?
People have a reluctance to accept or believe in something they cannot see, there is no evidence for and can’t be measured.
That being said, if you are partaking in something such as acupuncture and you come away feeling better and in less pain, shouldn’t you continue.
Maybe it is actually strengthening your psyche.
Go for it I would say!
I will leave it for you to decide whether you pursue this avenue of healing or not, if you do then do be sure to go to a licensed acupuncturist.
My physio once told me that there are many physios trained in acupuncture and combined with there understanding of the human anatomy, they can be a good option to see for this treatment.
I do want you to keep in mind no pun intended, what we have discussed about the power of the mind.
Chronic pain can be a long and arduous journey and I believe strength of the mind is as vital as any other treatment.
People who don’t have the mental strength may succumb to the pain and let it consume them.
If you don’t choose acupuncture please consider choosing other methods like meditation and listening to motivational speakers.
Chronic pain such as arthritis is a very negative thing so surround yourself with positivity to get the balance right, remember your yin and yang and chee!
Just because you can’t see something doesn’t mean it isn’t there.
Please comment, like and share, thanks for reading!