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Acupuncture and Arthritis: The Facts

Acupuncture and Arthritis

Acupuncture and Arthritis

Ask The Acupuncturist

How Can Acupuncture Help with Arthritis?

Hey Everyone!  It’s your friendly Portland neighborhood Acupuncturists.  Today we want to talk about how acupuncture can help with arthritis.

Portland winters are famous for cold and rain. A lot of people notice an increase in achy stiff joints. Your local acupuncturist will call this affliction Bi-Syndrome (pronounced BEE-Syndrome). Bi-Syndrome is a group of diseases defined by poor circulation causing pain, soreness, swelling, and limitation of movement. Does that sound familiar?  Yup, that’s arthritis.

What is Arthritis?

There are many different types of arthritis and it can affect people of all ages. There are degenerative types, inflammatory, infectious, or metabolic. Acupuncturists have been treating all types of arthritis for 1000’s of years.  We’re pretty good at it too!

The most common type of arthritis is osteoarthritis (OA) or joint pain. Acupuncturists call this “Bony-Bi-Syndrome.” OA a degenerative type of arthritis that generally affects joints that support body weight. However, OA can affect your elbows, shoulders, and hands, or pretty much any joint.


Did you know that osteoarthritis or joint degeneration can begin as early as a person’s late twenties? Often that damage to a joint is typically irreversible. OA can be difficult to treat because blood flow to joints is minimal. When that happens damaged joint tissues like cartilage and ligaments don’t get the nutrients necessary for complete healing. What the body does instead to compensate for damage is to build up scar tissue and adhesions that limit mechanical function. This can result in stiffness and pain and impact quality of life.


Acupuncture increases circulation.  When there is more circulation, there is more healing and pain relief.  Your acupuncturist has many tools to help you feel better.  Many people get the best results with a heat therapy called moxibustion or “moxa.”  Moxa creates a warmth that helps people get arthritis relief that can last for weeks or months.  We often prescribe moxa to patients that would like to get relief at home.  The cost is less that $5 and it doesn’t damage your liver, hearth health, or digestive system.

Should I Take Anti Inflammatories? 

Inflammation is actually not all bad. It is the body’s natural process that occurs in our immune response to trigger healing. Inflammation can become bad, especially when we end up in a chronic inflammatory cycle. The chronic inflammatory cycle is a self-perpetuating loop where increased friction in a joint leads to more inflammation response that produces swelling and pain which in turn increases degeneration of tissues and we’re back to increased friction.

Breaking the inflammatory cycle starts with reducing pain. And getting active can help. Studies have shown that moderate amounts of aerobic activity can actually help reduce pain and disability due to OA. Low-impact exercising such as walking, swimming, and biking help manage weight, increase circulation, and contribute to overall general health. Sometimes it can be discouraging to get started, especially if you’re in pain. This is where acupuncture can help.  Your acupuncturist can help you with pain relief as you get started. That way you can keep going.

What Does Acupuncture Research Say?

Acupuncture and osteoarthritis have been studied for decades. Studies have consistently shown that acupuncture does not reverse the existing joint damage, acupuncture can help reduce inflammation and pain. Reducing inflammation and pain are key to breaking the cycle of inflammation.  That’s how you can put the breaks on future joint degeneration.

  1. This research goes as far back as 1975. This article published in The New England Journal of Medicine found that acupuncture helped significantly improve joint tenderness and pain.1   
  2. And more recently, a meta-analysis published in the BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine journal conducted a systematic review of 12 randomized control trials also found that acupuncture was statistically better at reducing pain severity and for longer periods of time up to four weeks when compared to sham acupuncture, no treatment or standard care.2
  3. Even Harvard Medical School listed acupuncture as an effective pain relief option, along with regular exercise, and maintaining a healthy weight.

Can Acupuncture Help You?

When it comes to conditions such as arthritis, acupuncture can help reduce pain, inflammation, get you moving again.  Acupuncture is time tested and science approved as a safe, effective pain management solution. Additionally, you might just find yourself sleeping better, feeling more positive, and doing activities that you haven’t done in years. Who can argue that that’s not a good thing? 

The WellBridge Clinic Can Help

The WellBridge Clinic is a Functional Medical Clinic that specializes in Acupuncture, Herbal and Nutritional Medicine.  Our mission has always been to EMPOWER more people to live healthy vibrant lives.  Every person we work with gets that extra mile.  We are located in Portland, Oregon and serve patients locally and around the world.

Click here so you can schedule an appointment or a free consultation to see how our team can help you.


  1. Gaw AC, Chang LW, Shaw L-C. Efficacy of acupuncture on osteoarthritic pain. A controlled, double-blind study. The New England journal of medicine. 1975;293(8):375-378.
  2. Manyanga T, Froese M, Zarychanski R, et al. Pain management with acupuncture in osteoarthritis: a systematic review and meta-analysis. BMC complementary and alternative medicine. 2014;14:312. doi:10.1186/1472-6882-14-312
  3. Osteoarthritis relief without more pills. Here are some steps you can take to reduce your reliance on medication to control your symptoms and stay functional. Harvard men’s health watch. 2015;19(10):1.
  4. Jeremy Howick, Felicity L. Bishop, Carl Heneghan, Jane Wolstenholme, Sarah Stevens, F. D. Richard Hobbs, George Lewith. Placebo Use in the United Kingdom: Results from a National Survey of Primary Care Practitioners. PLoS ONE, 2013; 8 (3): e58247 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0058247


Tameka Lim LAc., MSAOM and John Rybak, LAc., MSAOM

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