It is estimated that approximately ten million people in the UK have arthritis.
There are many different types, but all are characterised by the typical arthritic symptoms swollen, stiff and painful joints. Although often associated with the elderly, arthritis can also affect adults and children of any age and the two most common and well-known forms, are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.
Caused by years of wear and tear, osteoarthritis, will be experience by many of us at some point, however, rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune condition where the immune system attacks the joint linings and therefore is more prevalent amongst younger people.
Although less common, there are many other forms of arthritic conditions such as psoriatic arthritis, ankylosing spondylitis, cervical spondylitis, and lupus, each displaying characteristic arthritic symptoms of joint inflammation, but nevertheless requiring different treatment approaches. Therefore, if you think you have arthritis, it’s important to have an accurate diagnosis as treatment may vary depending on the type you have.
Although arthritis has no cure, early intervention and management of symptoms can help to slow progression. Common NHS treatments for arthritis include, painkillers, anti-inflammatory drugs, steroids, and exercise. Adverse effects and complications of analgesic drugs, such as addiction, kidney failure, and gastrointestinal bleeding, mean some sufferers prefer to limit their use, therefore acupuncture is also offered by some NHS physiotherapists and has been used historically to help alleviate arthritic symptoms, with several studies supporting its use as a complementary therapy.
(https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28876750) A recent British Acupuncture Council, briefing paper, reviewing the latest research concluded that:
‘Acupuncture is shown to give relief from the symptoms of osteoarthritis with negligible side effects and acupuncture practitioners should treat with high expectations of a worthwhile outcome.’
Despite this it is important that acupuncture treatment for osteoarthritis is complemented by other useful procedures, for example exercise and weight reduction.
With respect to rheumatoid arthritis, the same paper concluded: –
‘Acupuncture has been shown to give some pain relief in rheumatoid arthritis and an anti- inflammatory response may also be present. Treatment early in the disease is preferable but age and duration of the disease should not be seen as barriers to treatment’
However, the research for rheumatoid arthritis is limited and better trials are recommended.
Acupuncture is thought to relieve pain by diverting or altering pain sensations sent to your brain from damaged tissues and by encouraging your body’s own pain-relieving hormones.
Although initial treatment may only provide short term pain relief, repeated treatment (usually weekly for six to eight sessions) can bring long-term benefit, often for several months.
If you would like to try acupuncture for your arthritis please give Julia a call on 07872330502 to discuss if it could work for you.