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Rheumatoid Arthritis

Rheumatoid arthritis is a medical condition that causes pain, swelling and stiffness in the joints.

Often rheumatoid arthritis is seen in the elderly. In Chinese medicine this is because as we grow old we become more deficient in energy, blood and Yin.

Acupuncture for Rheumatoid Arthritis

Acupuncture treatment may help to relieve pain and improve function in patients with rheumatoid arthritis by:

  • Decreasing the proinflammatory cytokines IL-1 and IL-6 and increasing the inhibitory cytokines IL-4 and IL-10
  • Inducing vasoactive intestinal peptide expression, an anti-inflammatory neuro-peptide
  • Inhibiting the function of synovial mast cells (which are substantially involved in the initiation of inflammatory arthritis)
  • Upregulating plasma adrenocorticotropic hormone, downregulating serum cortisol levels and synovial nuclear factor-kappa B p 65 immunoactivity, and restoring the hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal axis (HPAA)
  • Stimulating nerves located in muscles and other tissues, which leads to release of endorphins and other neurohumoral factors, and changes the processing of pain in the brain and spinal cord
  • Increasing local microcirculation (Komori 2009), which aids dispersal of swelling

In most circumstances, Chinese herbs are better able to help with symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis. Taking supplements such as iron and glucosamine can improve symptoms.