Using Acupuncture For Natural Joint Pain Relief

By:    Published: December 1, 2011

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Many people experience pain around their joints for a number of reasons. Join pain can be caused by an underlying, chronic condition, such as rheumatoid arthritis or osteoarthritis. Other possible causes for joint pain include sprains and strain from overexertion, which is something that many athletes are susceptible to. Whatever the case may be, some people might feel frustrated with traditional methods of treatment, which includes surgery, medication and even regular injections for relief. Fortunately, there is a natural alternative for joint pain relief in the form of acupuncture. Read more to find out whether this alternative treatment is something you might be interested in.

Understanding Pain

Almost everyone has experienced joint pain at some point in their lives. For some, it’s a rare occurrence that merely signifies overuse or overexertion from physical activity or manual labor. However, many people suffer from joint pain on a daily basis and have had to learn to cope with the pain as part of their daily lives. To understand the benefits of acupuncture for joint pain relief, one must understand pain itself. Pain is a natural reaction in a person’s body, caused by the nervous system. It is a primary indicator that something is wrong and can warn people if they are suffering from an injury or illness. The severity and duration of the pain also helps people determine whether they need to seek medical attention.

Why Would Someone Be Interested In Acupuncture?

In many instances, the most widely used form of relief for pain is nonsteroidical anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). For severe pain, a physician may even prescribe stronger medication for relief. However, traditional forms of medical treatment might not be as effective as some people would like. Those suffering from chronic pain, especially, may wish to seek out other options for pain relief. Another reason why people might seek out acupuncture for pain relief is the complications and side effects associated with traditional medical treatment, particularly anti-inflammatory medications and steroid injections.

How Does Acupuncture Work For Joint Pain?

Acupuncture is a regular part of traditional Chinese medicine that has existed for many, many years and is practiced throughout the world. Acupuncture treatment involves a licensed, acupuncture practitioner who uses thin needles that are inserted through the skin to help stimulate certain points around the body. According to the National Centre for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM), the traditional Chinese medicine theory is that acupuncture can help regulate “qi,” which is a person’s vital energy that flows along pathways throughout the body, known as meridians. In a National Health Interview Survey, it was determined that back pain was the most commonly reported use for acupuncture, followed by joint pain.

According to the National Cancer Institute, a small clinical trial involving acupuncture was conducted amongst breast cancer patients experiencing joint pain caused by aromatase inhibitor treatment. In the trial, 80 percent of the women who received acupuncture to relive their joint pain reported that there was at least a slight improvement in the pain they were feeling.

Is Acupuncture For Natural Joint Pain Relief Considered Safe?

According to NCCAM, acupuncture is generally considered safe if it is being performed by an experienced practitioner who is using sterile needles. It has also been reported that there are fewer adverse side effects associated with acupuncture than most standard drug treatments that are commonly used to relieve pain. While infections and punctured organs are possible risks when using acupuncture for natural joint pain relief, these occurrences are extremely rare. While acupuncture may seem like a safe, alternative form of treatment for natural joint pain relief, you should discuss its use with your physician before proceeding.

What Else Can Acupuncture Help Treat?

While further research is required to determine the effectiveness of acupuncture for pain relief, the following is a list of conditions that may benefit from its use:

  • Fibromyalgia
  • Carpal tunnel syndrome
  • Lower back pain
  • Menstrual cramps
  • Myofascial pain (pain in sensitive areas in the muscles known as “trigger points”)
  • Neck pain
  • Headaches and migraines
  • Osteoarthritis and knee pain
  • Tennis elbow
  • Postoperative dental pain

Ongoing research is being conducted as to whether or not acupuncture can help relieve pain associated with these conditions. While it has shown to be effective for osteoarthritis, neck pain and knee pain, conditions like myofascial pain and tennis elbow have produced mix results.

Bottom Line

Acupuncture can be a legitimate form of treatment for natural joint pain relief. It carries minimal risks, while serving as an alternative to traditional forms of medical treatment. Like with any complementary or alternative medicine, be sure to discuss the use of acupuncture with your regular physician beforehand to avoid any possible complications with ongoing treatment.

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