Acupuncture Improves
Rheumatoid Arthritis Symptoms

A rheumatoid arthritis study published in the May 2008 issue of Clinical Rheumatology has found that acupuncture may indeed be effective in symptom and pain management for patients suffering from RA. Twenty five patients were given 14 Korean acupuncture sessions over the course of six weeks. All patients were assessed using American College of Rheumatology (ACR) criteria, the Disease Activity Score(DAS28), joint tenderness, swollen joints, morning stiffness and general quality of life (SF-36 questionnaire).

According to the researchers, the acupuncture prescription was individualized based on the five-elements principle in Sa-am acupuncture.

At the end of the six weeks, 48 percent of patients showed improvement on the ACR 20 measurement scale. Furthermore, acupuncture also produced statistically significant improvements in the DAS28 scale, pain and global activity measurements, swollen joint count, and the health-related quality-of-life scale (SF-36).

Interestingly, there was no significant difference in ACR20 measurements between those who also were taking medication compared with those who were not. This appears to indicate that acupuncture alone may achieve almost the same results as medication, but without the potential for harmful interactions or side effects.

The researchers noted: "Forty eight percent of the ACR20 responders at 6 weeks may not be an impressive result in an uncontrolled study. The participants, however, had relatively moderate or lower disease activities compared to those included in previous RCTs of RA. Forty-eight percent of the patients were receiving only acupuncture for RA, and the medication was stable in the other 52%. Thus, our findings of 48% regarding ACR 20 responders is worthy of attention.

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