In collaboration with Keck School of Medicine

Acupuncture May Help Alleviate Osteoarthritis Pain

Acupuncturist performs acupuncture to relieve Osteoarthritis

This article was originally published on Confronting Chronic Pain by Dr. Steven Richeimer, Director Pain Medicine Master and Certificate.

New research emerged regarding the use of acupuncture to help with chronic pain caused by osteoarthritis. The information shared in the research study further points to the idea that giving acupuncture a try may offer some relief. The more options people have to help address chronic pain, the more likely they are to find something that works for them and improves their quality of life.


Acupuncture May Help Alleviate Osteoarthritis Pain

In the September 2020 issue of the journal Experimental Biology and Medicine, researchers shared their findings regarding using acupuncture to help alleviate osteoarthritis pain. The researchers believe that acupuncture is beneficial for those who have chronic pain from the condition, but they wanted to learn more about why it works.

Specifically, they wanted to learn more about using the ancient form of Chinese medicine on the ST35 (lower border of patella when the knee is flexed) and ST36 (below the kneecap) acupuncture points. They focus on those points for the test that was performed on rats. They gave the rats the first acupuncture treatment on the seventh day after surgery, and then once per day for the next week. They noted details regarding the histology, knee-pain behaviors, and related protein.

Related Reading: Noninvasive, Non-Pharmacological Treatments for Chronic Pain


What did researchers find?

Their research found that administering treatment to the ST35 and ST36 acupuncture points significantly alleviates cartilage degeneration, as well as hyperalgesia, which is an enhanced sensitivity to the pain. They also believe that such treatments may keep the inflammation factor lower.

Overall, the researchers still feel that how acupuncture works isn’t exactly clear, but that it does help alleviate pain. This information adds to the understanding of how acupuncture helps chronic pain conditions, specifically osteoarthritis.

There are over 300 million people around the world who suffer from osteoarthritis, making it the most common form of arthritis. The condition leads to chronic pain because the cartilage that protects your bones ends up wearing down. Once the cartilage wears down, it leads to joint pain. The Arthritis Foundation reports that some of the things that may contribute to osteoarthritis include age, joint injury, overuse, obesity, weak muscles, genes, and sex (women are more likely to experience it).

For those who suffer from chronic pain due to osteoarthritis, it may be a good idea to give acupuncture a try. The treatment involves thin needles being inserted through the skin at specific areas near the knee. Look for a qualified acupuncturist who has a good reputation.

Related Reading: An Intersectional Approach to Treating Chronic Pain


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