Better Acupuncture

Electroacupuncture Initiates Cartilage Healing in Knee Arthritis

By Dr. Andrew Godenick ND L.Ac

You know the drill – wake up every day, desperately shaking off the sleepy brain fog, all the while pushing through stiff, achey joints.  While morning brain fog is a topic for another day, joint stiffness in the morning, aka “rusty gate syndrome”, is a tell tale sign of osteoarthritis.

Osteoarthritis is a degenerative disease involving joint cartilage degradation. With the influence of age, wearing, biochemical and genetic factors, the scaffold of the joint becomes damaged and degraded, leading to pain, stiffness and even bio-mechanical dysfunction and bone defects.  Arthritis is reported by at least 1 in 6 adults in every US state nation wide.  In the 15 states with the highest prevalence, arthritis affects up to 1 in 4 adults (according to Center for Disease Control statistics in 2015).  Unfortunately, this number seems to be growing.  The good new is that research is pointing toward modern acupuncture as an answer to alleviate this pervasive problem.

In a controlled trial (Zhang et al.), participants with knee osteoarthritis received acupuncture or physiotherapy every other day over 4 weeks.  Each group were evaluated subjectively for pain, stiffness, and physical functioning using a standardized questionnaire (WOMAC).  In addition, researchers looked at T2 MRIs (magnetic resonance imaging) before and after the study to measure internal joint changes.  It is interesting to note that the “T2” form of MRI enhances visibility of fat, water content, and other anatomical structures in the body, particularly the collagen matrix of cartilage, which breaks down in osteoarthritis. 

At the end of the study, the researchers noted that acupuncture and physiotherapy produced positive patient outcomes – highlighting how participants experienced relief in pain, less stiffness in the morning, and better joint function – which is great news for arthritis sufferers!   In addition, the researchers noted, that “acupuncture treatment showed better curative effect than physiotherapy, suggesting that acupuncture may be a superior non-operative treatment for knee osteoarthritis compared with physiotherapy.”  Furthermore, acupuncture significantly outperformed physical therapy across all three WOMAC indices (pain, stiffness, and physical functioning).

Overall, this study validates the effectiveness of acupuncture and physiotherapy to help people with arthritis return to daily activities with less pain and stiffness, while acupuncture, was pointed out to be most indicated for initiating cartilage repair of failing arthritic joints.  So when your joints are “screaming” at you, and that morning achy-stiffness becomes too much to bear, – or better yet, BEFORE your joints get that bad – reach out to your neighborhood acupuncturist and physiotherapist for to get real healing relief.

 

References

  1. https://www.cdc.gov/arthritis/data_statistics/state-data-current.htm
  2. Zhang, Yan, Fei Bao, Yan Wang, and Zhihong Wu. “Influence of acupuncture in treatment of knee osteoarthritis and cartilage repairing.” American journal of translational research 8, no. 9 (2016): 3995.

Posted in: Acupuncture

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