Acupuncture is known to have many positive effects on the body, but can it help joint pain conditions like arthritis? In this article we provide an overview of acupuncture for joint pain, its benefits, and any risks.
Can Acupuncture Help Joint Pain?
Many experts believe that acupuncture is effective in treating joint pain such as arthritis, alleviating it’s symptoms. However, there is conflicting scientific evidence to back up this claim. As such, acupuncture should not be considered a cure or be used as a sole treatment, but more as an intervention that would complement other techniques.
A 2012 study in JAMA International Medicine reported that pain relief associated with acupuncture for joint pain may be a placebo effect. 50% of the respondents that received acupuncture said that their joint pain improved by 50% or more, compared to 42.5% of respondents that received a placebo treatment. Either way, some doctors consider a positive outcome, placebo or not, to be a success.
Our Resources page contains various studies regarding acupuncture having a placebo effect; click here to learn more.
Benefits of Using Acupuncture for Joint Pain
Despite the conflicting scientific evidence, many people that undergo acupuncture for joint pain report improvements in their overall quality of life. Specific benefits of acupuncture for joint pain include:
Acupuncture is reported to stimulate nerve fibres to block out pain signals, whilst also raising endorphin levels. However, some do consider acupuncture to have somewhat of a placebo effect on patients, although that does not diminish the result of reduced pain.
Better range of motion and reduced stiffness
Acupuncture can help to reduce stiffness at the joints, which in turn may help to relieve joint pain. Further to this, sports acupuncture is reported to help improve patients’ circulation and provide a better range of motion.
After acupuncture, a person may experience better sleep due to the release of melatonin. Whilst not strictly related to joint pain, a good night’s sleep has numerous benefits on the body.
Improved sense of wellbeing
Acupuncture is known to release the chemical serotonin. This may positively affect a person’s mental state, and overall wellbeing.
Risks Associated with Acupuncture for Joint Pain
Promoters of acupuncture consider the treatment to be a gentle way to heal the body with minimal risks and side effects. That being said, there are a few groups of people that should consult a doctor before proceeding with acupuncture:
- Pregnant women
- Those with blood disorders such as Haemophilia
- Anybody taking anticoagulant medication
- Those with serious health conditions
Side effects of acupuncture
Although rare, some people may experience mild side effects as a result of acupuncture treatment. Possible side effects include:
- Pain, bleeding, or bruising at the site of needle insertion
- Feeling faint, drowsy, or dizzy after treatment
How Does Acupuncture for Joint Pain Compare to Western Medical Treatments?
Whilst there are mild side effects to acupuncture, as outlined above, these are relatively risk-free when compared to the side effects of western medication. Some drugs, although beneficial to specific conditions, can have much more severe side effects.
What Else Can Acupuncture Be Used For?
Acupuncture is used for a wide range of both physical and mental health problems with some level of success. These include:
- Dental pain
- Menopausal symptoms
- Chronic pains
- Menstrual cramps
- Chemotherapy induced nausea
- Post-operative pain and nausea
Acupuncture Courses for Healthcare Professionals
Breeze Academy offers a variety of acupuncture and dry needling courses for healthcare professionals. Learn more about acupuncture for common ailments such as joint pain and level up your healthcare practice. View our acupuncture and dry needling courses here.