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Research on acupuncture and arthritis has shown acupuncture to be an effective treatment for knee osteoarthritis. In one study, people with knee osteoarthritis experienced pain relief and improved knee function after being treated with acupuncture. However, it is not known whether acupuncture can be an effective addition to the standard treatment for other types of arthritis. Also, if a person with knee osteoarthritis does choose to use acupuncture, it is important that he or she not use this treatment option in place of other arthritis treatments that have been recommended.

An Overview of Acupuncture and Arthritis

Acupuncture is a practice that developed as a part of traditional Chinese medicine. Some people try acupuncture as a way to treat arthritis pain or to treat the arthritis itself. Good research studies have shown that acupuncture can help relieve pain associated with osteoarthritis. However, not much is known about its effectiveness for other types of arthritis, such as rheumatoid arthritis.

What Is Acupuncture?

Acupuncture -- the practice of inserting thin needles into specific body points to improve health and well-being -- originated in China more than 2,000 years ago. Acupuncture is used by an estimated 2 million adults in the United States each year.
The acupuncture technique that has been most studied scientifically involves penetrating the skin with thin, solid, metallic needles that are then manipulated by the hands or by electrical stimulation. In recent years, scientific inquiry has begun to shed more light on acupuncture's possible mechanisms and potential benefits, especially in treating painful conditions such as arthritis.
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Last reviewed by: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
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