Acupuncture for Rheumatoid Arthritis

Acupuncture » Acupuncture for Rheumatoid Arthritis



 Because rheumatoid arthritis is an inflammatory and painful condition, it falls into the realm of interruption of qi . Inflammatory conditions reflect an excess of qi ; however, dull pains and stiff joints are indicative of a deficiency of qi . This probably mirrors the evolution of rheumatoid arthritis, from an early stage when it is highly inflammatory to a chronic, late stage where there is more atrophy, stiffness, and dull aching. The treatment of course has to be appropriate for each stage. So the clinician must examine you to determine the stage in order to use the appropriate acupuncture points. However, rheumatoid arthritis can be helped.

Acupuncture effects last 48 to 72 hours in animals, which translates to 2 to 3 days in humans. Thus, for acupuncture to be effective, treatment sessions should not be more than 2 to 3 days apart. Once a week is not sufficient. You don't get cumulative benefits. And don't expect to see much benefit before 5 or 6 treatments.

If you have an acupuncturist working under the supervision of another doctor, the two have to agree on the cause of your problem and the approach must be planned out. If the two don't agree, the plan is different and the effects will be different. When expectations are different, you cannot gauge the results of the treatment.

Acupuncture can also control acute inflammation in conditions, such as fever, laryngitis, and sinusitis. Acupuncture also has an effect on autoimmune reactivity and chronic inflammation, such as that seen in rheumatoid arthritis, but the treatment has to be maintained because the condition is chronic and we cannot totally eliminate the reactivity. However, we can alleviate it to some extent.

Can acupuncture replace surgery?

That depends on the reason for the surgery. If it's for pain, acupuncture may be an alternative. If it's for deformity, acupuncture cannot undo the deformity. Acupuncture is a symptomatic treatment, not an anatomical changing modality.

Can ulnar deviation of the hand be treated with acupuncture?

Ulnar deviation is due to joint erosion and, because the joint is damaged unevenly, the forces on the muscles on either side of the joint are uneven. Prevention requires relaxation of the muscle. Treatment must be prolonged and involve an acupuncture technique to relax those muscles. When trying to achieve relaxation, extra stimulation (such as electricity) should not be used. But once muscle shortening has become permanent, such as in a bunion, it is almost impossible to correct without lengthening or cutting loose the muscle in some way.