Although acupuncture and osteoarthritis have coexisted for thousands of years, it is only during the last few decades that acupuncture has become a mainstream treatment in the Western world for osteoarthritis. At Long Island Spine Rehabilitation Medicine, our doctors have been successfully treating osteoarthritis patients this way for over 20 years. If you are troubled by the pain and restricted mobility of osteoarthritis, contact us to learn the benefits of treating the condition safely and easily with acupuncture.
What is osteoarthritis?
Osteoarthritis is the degeneration of joint cartilage. Since cartilage provides natural cushioning between bones, the more it deteriorates, the more bones rub against one another, abrading their surfaces and causing pain and inflammation at the joints. This makes movement increasingly difficult, most often in the hip, knee, thumb, and vertebral joints.
Osteoarthritis is extremely common, affecting 85 percent of the population over the age of 65 and a great many younger individuals, especially those who have previously suffered injuries in car accidents, slip and falls, or sports activities.
What is acupuncture and how does it work for osteoarthritis?
Acupuncture has long been practiced in China and other parts of Asia. It is based on the principle that there is a primary energy, known as QI, coursing freely through healthy bodies. When that energy source is blocked, bodies become ill and suffer pain.
Under this assumption, acupuncture is believed to be the most effective way to restore proper energy flow along the body’s pathways (meridians). When a well-trained practitioner inserts the hair-thin needles into specially designated points along the meridians, the healthy flow is restored and the body is revitalized. The needles stay in for approximately 20 minutes. Though sometimes several treatments are necessary for improvement to be noticeable, at other times immediate results are remarkable.
The Many Advantages of Using Acupuncture to Treat Osteoarthritis
At Long Island Spine Rehabilitation Medicine, we focus on nonsurgical approaches and believe in treating our patients holistically, with complementary as well as traditional medical techniques. For this reason, acupuncture is a natural part of our practice. Our formal studies of the discipline, along with the testimonials offered by our patients, reinforce our belief that acupuncture has a great many benefits as a treatment for osteoarthritis, including:
- It is not only pain-free but relaxing; many patients doze off during treatments
- It is administered with sealed, one-use sterilized needles so it is extremely safe
- Treatments take only a short time and no downtime is required afterwards
- It is often effective where other therapeutic methods have failed
- It is a non-addictive, drug-free method to relieve pain
- It can be combined with other treatment methods, such as physical therapy and corticosteroid/analgesic injections
- It has no dangerous or lasting side effects
- The FDA also sees acupuncture needles as medical devices and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the World Health Organization (WHO) now recognize the efficacy of acupuncture and support its use in cases Western medicine fails to help
The fact that acupuncture is minimally invasive, safe, comfortable, and takes little time makes it an excellent choice for patients of all ages suffering the pain and disability of osteoarthritis.
Western Medicine Explains Why Acupuncture Works
For centuries, the Western world has been fearful and/or dismissive of acupuncture as a treatment option for osteoarthritis. Meanwhile, Eastern medicine has provided relief to millions of suffering patients with the same method. Now that clinical studies have shown undeniable positive results of acupuncture treatments, Western medicine has performed research to explain its success.
No more magical than the magnetic resonance used in MRI scans, laser surgery, or artificial hearts, acupuncture is explainable by medical science as a means of:
- Stimulating the central nervous system, triggering the release of endorphins
- Increasing the speed of electromagnetic signals that work to release immune cells
- Changing brain chemistry by releasing of neurotransmitters and neurohormones
- Triggering the release of endorphins that act as natural opioids, creating positive feelings and suppressing pain
Is the placebo effect part of how acupuncture works?
The placebo effect, though some people relegate it to the status of brainwashing, has real medical evidence to support it. Whether associated with acupuncture, oral medication, nutritional supplements or surgery, it is frequently part of the pain-reduction and healing process. Instead of scoffing at it, modern medicine is beginning to embrace it as an ally in recovery from illness, injury or surgery. In other words, whatever part the placebo effect plays in recovery by altering brain chemistry, it can’t hurt and may often be helpful.
Contact Our Talented Acupuncture Team Today
Our doctors are more than competent when it comes to helping relieve the disabling symptoms of osteoarthritis. They are empathic, happy to bring you comfort and relief. Once you become our patient, we will take a full medical history, give you a thorough physical examination, and use any necessary imaging tests before we make our diagnosis.
Whether osteoarthritis or some other condition is causing your pain and stiffness, we may well recommend acupuncture as a treatment. Our experience with acupuncture has shown it to be a powerful therapeutic technique, helping us to achieve our most important goal: improving the lives of our patients without surgery. Contact our office today to schedule an appointment.