Can Acupuncture Be Used To Treat Arthritis?

Arthritis is a debilitating condition affecting millions of people worldwide. It can cause continuous, excruciating pain and reduce mobility, leading to a dramatic reduction in quality of life. 

Many are turning to alternative therapies such as acupuncture in the hope of finding relief. But does it really work? Can acupuncture really be used to treat arthritis?

Can Acupuncture Be Used To Treat Arthritis?

In this article, I’ll explore the evidence for and against using acupuncture for arthritis treatment.

Overview Of Arthritis

Arthritis is an umbrella term that encompasses over 100 different types of joint disease. It affects people of all ages, genders, and backgrounds, causing inflammation and pain in the joints that can be debilitating. 

Osteoarthritis (OA) is the most common form of arthritis, affecting millions worldwide, and caused by age-related wear and tear on the joints.

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is another type of autoimmune disorder that typically affects younger adults and causes inflammation due to the body attacking its own joints.

Benefits Of Acupuncture For Arthritis Sufferers

Acupuncture has been proven to be an effective treatment for arthritis sufferers. It helps reduce inflammation, pain, and stiffness in the joints, allowing patients to move more freely.

In addition, research has shown that acupuncture can also improve overall physical functioning and quality of life.

The effects of acupuncture have been demonstrated in a number of studies. One study found that after six weeks of acupuncture treatments, patients showed improvements in joint stiffness, physical function, and overall quality of life.

Another study found that after 10 weeks of treatment with acupuncture, the improvement was even greater.

Acupuncture is a safe and non-invasive treatment option for arthritis sufferers looking to improve their condition.

The relief it brings has been shown to be both short-term and long-term, so it can provide an ongoing benefit for those living with arthritis.

This makes it an ideal choice for many people seeking relief from their symptoms without surgery or other invasive procedures.

How Does Acupuncture Work?

Acupuncture has been used for centuries to relieve pain, improve blood flow and reduce inflammation.

But how does it work? Acupuncture is based on the idea that a person’s life force, or qi, flows through the body along pathways known as meridians. 

When these pathways become blocked or imbalanced, pain and illness can occur. By inserting thin needles into specific points along these pathways, acupuncture practitioners can stimulate qi and restore balance to the body.

The exact mechanisms by which acupuncture works are still being studied and debated in the medical community.

Some believe that acupuncture helps release endorphins, the body’s natural pain relievers, while others think it may help increase circulation and reduce inflammation.

Still others believe that acupuncture can help regulate hormones and other biological processes in the body.

Research has shown that when used correctly and consistently, acupuncture can be an effective treatment for arthritis sufferers.

Studies have found that people who receive regular acupuncture treatments experience less joint pain and improved mobility compared to those who do not receive treatment.

Can Acupuncture Be Used To Treat Arthritis?

Possible Side Effects Or Risks

Acupuncture is generally considered a safe therapy and there are few, if any, side effects. However, some patients may experience minor discomfort or bruising at the needle insertion site.

Some people also report feeling tired after an acupuncture session.

It is important to note that acupuncture should only be carried out by a trained, qualified practitioner as incorrect technique can lead to potential harm or injury. It is also essential that all equipment used is sterile to reduce the risk of infection.

Overall, when administered correctly and under the supervision of a qualified practitioner, acupuncture shows minimal risk for those with arthritis. Patients should discuss any concerns with their doctor prior to starting treatment.

Preparing For An Acupuncture Session

Having an understanding of what to expect from an acupuncture session can help ease anxieties and prepare a person for their appointment.

To ensure the best experience possible, there are a few preparations that should be taken before the session.

It is important to inform the acupuncturist of any medications or supplements being taken, as well as any medical conditions or injuries.

This will help them make an informed decision about which points to use and how to best treat the patient’s condition.

Additionally, it’s a good idea to wear loose-fitting clothing that can easily be rolled up, so they have easy access to the areas they will be working on.

Finally, it is beneficial to arrive at the session in a relaxed state of mind. Taking some deep breaths or listening to calming music prior to the appointment can help put one in a more relaxed frame of mind and prepare them for their session. 

What To Expect During An Acupuncture Session

Before beginning treatment, your acupuncturist will ask questions about your lifestyle and medical history. They may also use other diagnostic tools, such as pulse and tongue diagnosis.

This can help them determine the most effective treatment plan for you.

During an acupuncture session, tiny needles are inserted into specific points on the body. You may experience a slight pinch when the needles are inserted, but it should not be painful.

Once the needles are in place, they will remain there for up to 30 minutes while you relax. During this time, your acupuncturist may massage certain areas or apply heat or electric stimulation to further stimulate the acupuncture points.

At the end of a session, your acupuncturist will remove the needles and provide advice on how to maintain balance in your health going forward.

They may also offer additional treatments like cupping or moxibustion depending on your needs. With regular sessions over time, acupuncture can help alleviate symptoms associated with arthritis and improve overall well-being.

Alternative Treatments For Arthritis

In addition to acupuncture, other alternative treatments for arthritis include massage therapy, yoga, Tai Chi, herbal remedies, dietary changes, and heat or cold therapies.

Massage therapy can help reduce pain and stiffness in muscles and joints affected by arthritis. 

Yoga and Tai Chi are both low-impact exercises that can help improve flexibility and range of motion while strengthening muscles affected by arthritis.

Herbal remedies such as turmeric or ginger may also be helpful in relieving inflammation associated with arthritis. 

Dietary changes such as reducing sugar intake or eating more anti-inflammatory foods can also help manage the symptoms of arthritis.

Finally, heat or cold therapies such as using hot or cold compresses may be beneficial in relieving pain associated with joint inflammation caused by arthritis.


In conclusion, acupuncture is a safe and effective treatment for arthritis sufferers. It’s worth considering if you’re looking for an alternative to traditional treatments.

Research has shown that it can reduce pain and inflammation associated with arthritis, as well as improve mobility. 

It’s important to find a qualified acupuncturist who is familiar with treating arthritis, so be sure to do your research before deciding on the right person for you.

The preparation process will also help you get the best results from your treatment sessions. 

Ultimately, it’s up to you whether acupuncture is the right choice for managing your arthritis symptoms. With proper preparation, it can provide relief and help improve your overall quality of life.

Clare McAfee
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