Rheumatoid arthritis

In general, acupuncture is believed to stimulate the nervous system and cause the release of neurochemical messenger molecules. The resulting biochemical changes influence the body’s homeostatic mechanisms, thus promoting physical and emotional well-being. Stimulation of certain acupuncture points has been shown to affect areas of the brain that are known to reduce sensitivity to pain and stress (Hui 2010) It has also be shown to reduce inflammation, by promoting the release of vascular and immunomodulatory factors

Acupuncture treatment may help to relieve pain and improve function in patients with rheumatoid arthritis by:

•    decreasing the proinflammatory cytokines IL-1 and IL-6 and increasing the inhibitory cytokines  IL-4 and IL-10.

•    inducing vasoactive intestinal peptide expression, an anti-inflammatory neuropeptide

•    inhibiting the function of synovial mast cells (which are substantially involved in the initiation of inflammatory arthritis)

•    upregulating plasma adrenocorticotropic hormone, downregulating serum cortisol levels and synovial nuclear factor-kappa B p 65 immunoactivity, and restoring the hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal axis (HPAA).

•    stimulating nerves located in muscles and other tissues, which leads to the release of endorphins and other neurohumoral factors, and changes the processing of pain in the brain and spinal cord.

•    increasing local microcirculation, which aids dispersal of swelling