Acupuncture is a component of the traditional Chinese medicine. It is also categorized under complementary and alternative medicine – medical practices that are not part of the standard care. Acupuncture is used to describe a collection of processes, which involve skin penetration using needles. These processes stimulate certain points on the body. The mode of action of acupuncture is based on the theory that the functions of the body are under the regulation of an energy ‘Qi’. Under normal body conditions, this energy flows through the body, and any disruption of flow causes disease. Acupuncture, therefore, aims to rectify the imbalances in energy (Qi) flow through the stimulation of acupoints – anatomical locations on the skin or under the skin.
Arthritis is one of the leading causes of disability in the United States, with about 70 million Americans affected. Treatment of arthritis involves management of pain and inflammation, mainly at the joints. Surgery is also used to relieve stiffness of joints and maintain normal physical function. The most common types of arthritis are rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis. Acupuncture has been applied towards the relief of pain and inflammation associated with arthritis. Research studies have, however, found very little evidence to support this practice. Nevertheless, it is believed that acupuncture regulates the transmission of and response to pain by activating the endogenous nociceptive system. When the needles are inserted under the skin around the joints, endorphins and other neuropeptides are released, and mediate the analgesic effect of acupuncture. Studies have shown that acupuncture in the control of pain associated with rheumatoid arthritis of the knee. It should be noted that during treatment, the needles are not only located around the affected area but also other parts of the body. The duration of treatment is normally between 5 and 30 minutes, once or twice a week.
David, J., et al. "The effect of acupuncture on patients with rheumatoid arthritis: a randomized, placebo-controlled cross-over study." Oxford Journals: Rheumatology 38.9 (1999): 864-869. http://rheumatology.oxfordjournals.org/content/38/9/864.full#ref-1.