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Acupuncture May Ease Rheumatoid Arthritis Discomfort

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Electro- and traditional acupuncture may reduce joint tenderness in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis, according to research presented this week at the American College of Rheumatology Annual Scientific Meeting in Washington, DC.

Rheumatoid arthritis, the most common form of inflammatory arthritis, dramatically limits movement and function as well as causing damage to cartilage and bone. For the 60 million individuals around the world (1% of the population) with this immune system disease, the inflammation causes pain, stiffness, swelling and damage of the joints.Researchers randomly assigned 7 male and 29 female patients, averaging 58 years of age, with rheumatoid arthritis that was unresponsive to other therapies, to one of three acupuncture/placebo groups. The first group of 12 received electro-acupuncture, pulsating electrical currents sent through the acupuncture needles to stimulate target areas. Group two were given traditional acupuncture, and the remaining 12 patients received placebo needles. All patients received a total of 20 sessions over a 10-week period. Most tolerated the procedure well and the majority of those dropping out prematurely were within the placebo group.At the end of the sessions, those receiving electro-acupuncture had experienced a significant reduction in the number of tender joints and measurable decrease in pain, stiffness and swelling. The traditional acupuncture group also experienced benefits but at a diminished rate, while those in the placebo group saw no change."The patient's comfort is as important as relieving the disease itself," says Dr. Lai-Shan Tam, Associate Professor, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, and an investigator in the study. "So, while the results were not as positive as had been hoped, this does show that acupuncture, either electro or traditional, when used in conjunction with disease modifying agents, may still provide beneficial pain relief for those with otherwise intractable rheumatoid arthritis."(Source: Annual Scientific Meeting: American College of Rheumatology : November 2006.)

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Posted On: 22 November, 2006
Modified On: 16 January, 2014

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