What is Rheumatoid Arthritis:
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a chronic inflammatory disease that is best known for causing joint pain and even deformity. In some cases the disease can cause eye, skin, lung, heart and blood vessel problems as well. RA is an autoimmune disease. This means that the inflammation and damage is caused by your bodies own immune system over-reacting and attacking your body’s tissues. This is different from osteoarthritis which is caused by gradual wear and tear and mainly affects joints in the hands, knees, hips and spine.
RA is often treated with medications. NSAIDs, steroids, disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs and biological agents are often employed to reduce inflammation, slow the progression or suppress the immune system. There are side effects to all of these medications and they can include stomach irritation, kidney damage, thinning bones, diabetes, liver damage, severe lung infections and increased risk of infections. Doctors are challenged with balancing between reducing RA symptoms and dealing with side effects. It is often a quality of life issue and the choice between the lesser of two evils. Physical or occupational therapists are often employed to help keep joints flexible and modify daily tasks to make them less stressful on painful joints. Surgery may be a last resort due to the risks of bleeding, infection and pain.
Acupuncture & Rheumatoid Arthritis:
Acupuncture can treat RA is two ways. The first is to reduce inflammation and provide pain relief. This can be a wonderful intervention and reduce the dependency on medications. The problem with this type of treatment is that it does not address the cause of the problem: the over-reactive immune system. Fortunately, there are acupuncture protocols that will do just that. These protocols reduce the production of inflammatory cytokines such as Tumor Necrosis Factor (TNF), Interleukins and HMGB1. In studies of the protocol, a single 60 second stimulation of the prescribed points with electric stimulation suppressed TNF for 24 hours and 42 days of daily stimulation (1 minute each day) reduced TNF fro 14 days. With longer treatments, acupuncturists are able to arrest the progression of the disease. Using a two pronged approach, acupuncturists can address both the symptoms and provide a lasting solution.
No Quick Fix:
The course of treatment is not short. Approximately three months of treatments are needed to reduce the inflammatory process. Continued “maintenance” treatments are then be required to keep the process at bay. The frequency of these maintenance treatments varies from patient to patient. Acupuncture will not repair damage that has already been done but it can stop further degradation. For most, the ability to not only find relief, but to reduce or eliminate medications makes the process well worth the investment.
Princeton Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine
Our patients know just how effective treatments are for these and a host of other problems. Steven Hoffman, a New Jersey Licensed Acupuncturist and Diplomate in Oriental Medicine, will provide you with a thorough intake and evaluation and a clear, comprehensive diagnosis and treatment plan that will insure that your goals are met or exceeded. Do you want to move past these or other problems? We will help you thrive not just survive!