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What are the risks of acupuncture for arthritis?

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The chances that acupuncture will harm you are very low. That’s one of the reasons doctors say it’s OK to try it even though there’s sometimes limited proof that it helps arthritis.

Make sure your practitioner uses new, sterile needles for each client, so there’s a lower chance of infection. Some people bruise or feel sore later at the spot where the needles went in. Some people should be cautious before they get acupuncture, though. Ask your doctor about it if you:

The biggest drawback may be financial. Your insurance may not cover the cost.

  • Are pregnant
  • Take blood thinners or have a bleeding disorder
  • Have a pacemaker

SOURCES:

National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health: “Acupuncture in Depth.”

Mayo Clinic: “Acupuncture.”

Arthritis Foundation: “Acupuncture for Arthritis,” “Osteoarthritis,” “Rheumatoid Arthritis,” “Fibromyalgia,” “Gout.”

Arthritis & Rheumatology : “2019 American College of Rheumatology/Arthritis Foundation Guideline for the Management of Osteoarthritis of the Hand, Hip, and Knee.”

Evidence-Based Alternative and Complementary Medicine : “Clinical Efficacy of Acupuncture on Rheumatoid Arthritis and Associated Mechanisms: A Systemic Review.”

Journal of Traditional Chinese Medicine : “Efficacy of Acupuncture on Fibromyalgia Syndrome: A Meta-Analysis.”

Spondylitis Association of America: “Overview of Ankylosing Spondylitis.” 

Medicina Clinica : “Efficacy of Acupuncture in Rheumatic Diseases With Spinal Involvement: Systematic Review.”

Lupus Foundation of America: “How Lupus Differs from Arthritis.”

Current Rheumatology Reports : “Updated Review of Complementary and Alternative Medicine Treatments for Systemic Lupus Erythematosus.”

Rheumatology : “Acupuncture for gouty arthritis: a concise report of a systematic and meta-analysis approach.”

Johns Hopkins Medicine: “Acupuncture.”

Reviewed by Melinda Ratini on May 12, 2020

SOURCES:

National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health: “Acupuncture in Depth.”

Mayo Clinic: “Acupuncture.”

Arthritis Foundation: “Acupuncture for Arthritis,” “Osteoarthritis,” “Rheumatoid Arthritis,” “Fibromyalgia,” “Gout.”

Arthritis & Rheumatology : “2019 American College of Rheumatology/Arthritis Foundation Guideline for the Management of Osteoarthritis of the Hand, Hip, and Knee.”

Evidence-Based Alternative and Complementary Medicine : “Clinical Efficacy of Acupuncture on Rheumatoid Arthritis and Associated Mechanisms: A Systemic Review.”

Journal of Traditional Chinese Medicine : “Efficacy of Acupuncture on Fibromyalgia Syndrome: A Meta-Analysis.”

Spondylitis Association of America: “Overview of Ankylosing Spondylitis.” 

Medicina Clinica : “Efficacy of Acupuncture in Rheumatic Diseases With Spinal Involvement: Systematic Review.”

Lupus Foundation of America: “How Lupus Differs from Arthritis.”

Current Rheumatology Reports : “Updated Review of Complementary and Alternative Medicine Treatments for Systemic Lupus Erythematosus.”

Rheumatology : “Acupuncture for gouty arthritis: a concise report of a systematic and meta-analysis approach.”

Johns Hopkins Medicine: “Acupuncture.”

Reviewed by Melinda Ratini on May 12, 2020

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