If you’re one of the more than 54 million Americans who suffer from arthritis, you’ve probably tried all sorts of things to relieve your pain and stiffness. Pain relievers, activity modification, physical therapy — all these methods can provide a measure of relief to many people with arthritis symptoms. But there’s one treatment you may not have tried — acupuncture.
Acupuncture has been shown to be beneficial for people with all types of arthritis, including osteoarthritis, the most common type that becomes even more common as we get older. Jersey Integrative Health and Wellness is a top provider of acupuncture for men and women in Pompton Plains, Jersey City, and Boonton, New Jersey, customizing each treatment plan to help relieve arthritis pain and stiffness. Here’s how it works.
Arthritis is a condition that affects your joints, and there are actually several different types of arthritis. Osteoarthritis (OA) is the type of arthritis with which most of us are familiar, a chronic condition that develops as a result of wear and tear inside the joint. The surfaces of our joints are covered with a thick layer of the protective cartilage that helps our joints move smoothly and without pain.
Over time, repetitive use of the joints starts to break down that cartilage layer, exposing the joint surfaces and increasing friction, which in turn leads to inflammation, pain, swelling, and stiffness. While osteoarthritis is a lot more common with age, it’s also more common among athletes and others who lead physically active lives. That’s because many athletic activities put excess strain on the joints, increasing the risk of cartilage damage.
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is another kind of arthritis, but instead of being caused by physical wear and tear, it occurs when the body’s immune system attacks the joints, leading to inflammation, pain, and swelling. Rheumatoid arthritis is not as common as osteoarthritis, but like OA, RA can cause a significant amount of pain.
Most medical treatments have a well-described mechanism of action — that is, the way these treatments work is well understood. But with acupuncture, it’s different. Despite a wealth of studies, researchers still aren’t completely sure how acupuncture works to relieve arthritis pain — they just know that for some patients, it does.
In traditional Chinese medicine, it’s thought that acupuncture works by altering the flow of energy inside your body. When the energy patterns are “out of whack,” the result can be pain and other unpleasant symptoms. Acupuncture needles disrupt this flow of energy to help provide relief.
In Western medicine, researchers feel acupuncture may work by interrupting nerve signals that trigger painful symptoms, while also stimulating the release of specific chemicals. These chemicals play a key role in controlling both pain and inflammation, two of the major culprits in arthritis symptoms and joint damage.
That’s the first question most people have when it comes to acupuncture, and it’s not surprising. After all, the technique does rely on lots of tiny needles to achieve its benefits. When performed by an acupuncture specialist like the team at Jersey Integrative Health and Wellness, acupuncture can be surprisingly comfortable. The needles themselves are very thin — nothing like the needles used in vaccines and other injections. Plus, unlike vaccines that reach deep layers of tissue, acupuncture needles are only placed in the more superficial layers.
Our team is skilled in the precise placement of acupuncture needles, helping each patient achieve the benefits they need based on their symptoms. Accurate needle placement also increases the comfort of the procedure, so you can relax during your treatment and afterward.
Acupuncture offers the additional benefit of providing pain relief without relying on larger and larger doses of pain medication. Plus, many people find acupuncture offers other benefits, including helping to relieve stress. Since stress can actually make pain symptoms worse, it’s another way this traditional treatment may help you find much-needed relief for your arthritis pain.
Acupuncture treatments can be repeated as often as you need them to keep your arthritis symptoms under control. And since no drugs are used, you don’t have to worry about unpleasant side effects that accompany most pain medication. To learn more about acupuncture and how it can help relieve your arthritis pain, call Jersey Integrative Health and Wellness, or book your appointment online.