Joint Pain, Mobility and Acupuncture
Sep 30, 2019 11:37AM
● By Janet Lindsay
by Dr. “Cheech” Hill, DOM
Could acupuncture be the natural joint and body movement remedy you have been searching for? What actually causes joint discomfort and pain with body movement? This is triggered by inflammation which can be caused by many factors such as injury, repetitive use, poor diet, or autoimmune conditions like rheumatoid arthritis, Lyme disease and bursitis.
Joint pain can happen at any age, but it becomes more common as you grow older. Acupuncture can restore the body back to balance naturally—in particular, if you want to avoid OTC drugs and pain relievers. It is equally effective on all joints, whether you have a throbbing wrist or achy knees.
How about general stiffness and stiff joints? In a 2004 study conducted by Dr. Brian Berman, Director of the Center for Integrative Medicine at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, found that after 26 weeks, patients who received real acupuncture felt significantly less pain and functioned better—as measured by how far they could walk in six minutes—than their counterparts who received sham acupuncture.
So how does acupuncture relieve that pain and stiffness? Dr. Berman explains that a well-placed needle initiates a cascade of events which produce a signal that travels along the spinal cord to the brain and triggers a release of neurotransmitters called endorphins and enkephalins which scientists believe reduce the sensation of pain. Research also shows that inserting an acupuncture needle induces the production of cortisol, a hormone that helps control inflammation.
Acupuncture can stimulate the activity of other pain-relieving chemicals in the body as well. Researchers do know that it can encourage the flow of chemical and electrical information through the body—or block that flow—thereby moderating the perception of pain. It has also been shown to inhibit proteins that increase inflammation and can strengthen weak muscles or relax tense ones. You could infer that acupuncture diminishes pain by “untying muscular straitjackets, releasing tight, spasmed, shortened muscles to their resting state.”
There are more than 2,000 acupuncture points that connect to the meridians. Stimulating those points with needles, it is said, will correct the flow of qi and alleviate pain. Acupuncture does not work for everyone. It can also take three or more sessions before the symptoms begin to improve, and benefits usually last a month or so, after which a follow-up treatment is necessary. Certain forms of osteoarthritis might respond better than others to acupuncture. Patients with OA of the knee and spine appear to have the most success.
One advantage that acupuncture has over nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and other OTC medications is its relative lack of side-effects. This modality is safe, and the side effects are usually positive results in the body. What exactly happens during a treatment? To start, during a 50–90-minute treatment, an acupuncturist will ask you a series of questions about your joint pain and your general health.
Acupuncture is generally painless, though you might feel a fleeting prick, as the needles are placed. They are positioned at specific points that open meridian pathways where energy is said to flow through the body. You will be left to rest for 60 minutes, and clients fall asleep during that time. You can experience a decrease in pain, and will likely feel calmer and more relaxed during the next few days. With each treatment, these effects will last longer as the body starts to heal. Generally, the longer a condition has manifested, the longer it will take to treat it.
Acupuncture with diet and lifestyle changes can bring about an improvement in joint health and body mobility. Be proactive in caring for your health. With that in mind, we look forward to helping you with acupuncture, Chinese herbals, thermography, nutrition, massage, Functional Chemistry Lab Analysis and Nutritional DNA analysis.
Dr. “Cheech” Hill, DOM, is the owner of Sandhill Healing Center and Sandhill Medical Thermography, a Functional Medical Clinic that combines Western conventional medicine with Eastern Therapies. Her practice is located at 24901 Sandhill Blvd., Suite 8, Port Charlotte. For more information on the innovative modalities offered and to schedule an appointment, call 941-235-8929.