54% of rheumatologists recommend acupuncture treatment in the US

Reumatoid arthritis (RA) is an aotuimmune disorder affecting end joints. It causes joint inflammation and disruption of cartilage and bone. Joint pain is a common symptom and pain is worse in the morning or at rest. It could be associated with morning joint stiffness. Smoking is broadly studied and recognised as a risk factor of rheumatoid arthritis. Also smokers are not responding well to antirheumatic therapy.

Apart from conventional medicine treatment, doctors have shown openness towards complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) therapy. There is a survey by Manek NJ (2010) about the opinion of rheumatologists in the United States on CAM treating rheumatoid. Six common CAM therapies are included: spinal manipulation, acupuncture, energy medicine, meditation, glucosamine and body work. Most of rheumatologists are likely to recommend CAM therapy. Body work comes first. 70% of rheumatologists think body work is beneficial. 54% or rheumatologists accepted that acupuncture is a beneficial therapy.

Indeed there are many studies on the effectiveness of acupuncture treating patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA). There was a systematic review by Wang et al (2008). They studied 12 Western and Chinese databases and references. Tender joint pain, morning stiffness were investigated. In eight studies, acupuncture is used 11 weeks on average with about 42 sessions. Needle retention is 24 minutes on average. Results showed that six studies reported a significant reduction of pain in acupuncture group and 4 studies reported a reduction of morning stiffness.

Wang C et al Arthritis Rheum (2008) 59:1249-56
Manek NJ et al BMC Complement Altern Med (2010) 28:10-5

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