Using Acupuncture For Natural Joint Pain Relief

Photo Courtesy: Rossella De Berti/iStock

Numerous people feel pain around their joints for various reasons. An underlying, chronic condition, such as rheumatoid arthritis or osteoarthritis, can cause joint pain. Other potential reasons for joint pain include injuries and strain from overexertion, which many athletes are susceptible to. Whatever the case, some people might feel frustrated with traditional treatment methods, including surgery, medication, and even regular injections for relief. Luckily, there is a natural option for joint pain relief in the form of acupuncture. Read more to find out whether this alternative treatment is something you can try for joint pain relief.

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 have joint pain daily and have learned to cope with it as part of their daily lives. 

Pain is a natural reaction in your body caused by the nervous system. It is a primary indicator that something is wrong and can warn people if they have an injury or illness. The severity and duration of the joint pain also help people determine whether they need to seek medical attention.

Why Should You Consider Acupuncture?

In many instances, the most widely used form of relief for pain is nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). For severe pain, a doctor may even prescribe a stronger medication for relief. However, traditional forms of medical treatment might not be as effective as some people would like. Those with chronic pain may wish to seek out other options for pain relief. Another reason people might seek out acupuncture for pain relief is because of the complications and side effects of traditional medical treatment, which you may see with 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 years. Acupuncture treatment involves a licensed acupuncture practitioner who uses thin needles inserted through the skin to help stimulate specific 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.” Qi is a person’s vital energy that flows along pathways throughout the body, known as meridians. A National Health Interview Survey 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 amongst breast cancer patients assessed experiencing joint pain caused by aromatase inhibitor treatment. In the problem, 8 out of 10 females who received acupuncture to relieve their joint pain reported a slight improvement in their pain.

Is Acupuncture Safe?

According to NCCAM, acupuncture is safe if it is performed by an experienced practitioner using sterile needles. Fewer adverse side effects are associated with acupuncture than most standard drug treatments 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 doctor 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 assesses 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 mixed results.

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 doctor to avoid any possible complications with ongoing treatment.

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