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contact us at 301-588-5858.
Acupuncture for Rheumatoid Arthritis
For treatment of rheumatoid arthritis, acupuncture
is often our primary treatment approach. Acupuncture is a safe,
effective, and generally painless therapy which can often be highly
effective in treatment of rheumatoid arthritis, as well as other types
of pain, such as back pain
, neck pain, sciatica
, and some types of injuries such as sprains.
In our clinic we have seen very good results with acupuncture treatment
for rheumatoid arthritis, with no side-effects. We cannot speak to the
success rates of acupuncture in general, only the results at our clinic.
Acupuncture is a very broad, deep, and complex field of study. In
general, even a very talented practitioner will need at least 7-10 years
of full-time study to develop a high level of skill.
How Does Acupuncture Work?
Modern research has shown that acupuncture can help the body to release its own naturally occurring pain-relief
chemicals, called endogenous endorphins or endogenous opioids.
Acupuncture also helps the body to reduce certain chemicals involved in
inflammation. According to traditional acupuncture theories, pain can be
caused by a blockage in the body's vital energy. Acupuncture provides
relief from pain by clearing blockages and promoting the smooth flow of
The effects of acupuncture on endorphins and anti-inflammatory chemicals
help to explain the immediate pain-relief that people experience.
However, these effects are not enough to fully explain the long-term
benefits that patients often receive from acupuncture treatment. Many
scientific questions still remain about the way acupuncture works.
Our patients with rheumatoid arthritis have often experienced relief for
a month or longer between sessions. Compared to other conditions that
acupuncturists treat, rheumatoid arthritis treatment requires more
frequent visits initially, in order to achieve the best results. In
general we recommend treatment on a weekly frequency for the first 6
Of course, each individual's case is different, and some cases require
more or less frequent sessions over a longer period of time. Within a
month or two of weekly sessions, it should be very clear to you whether
our treatments are helpful for your condition.
"Rheumatoid arthritis is a condition which I have seen somewhat
frequently in practice. I always recommend that my patients follow the
directions of their rheumatologist because the medications can be quite
important to slow the progression of the disease. For individuals who
want to add another treatment approach, I believe acupuncture,
nutrition, or mind-body approaches are worth trying. To the extent that
these approaches are helpful, this is likely due to their ability to
help the body to regulate the inflammatory signals of the immune
Dr. Eric Windsor, D.Ac.
You are more likely to get the best results from acupuncture by visiting
a practitioner who has many years of experience treating your condition
with acupuncture. In our practice, we have been able to help around 80%
of our patients with rheumatoid arthritis to experience a significant
reduction in their frequency and severity of their symptoms.
Rheumatoid arthritis is normally diagnosed by a rheumatologist, who
often will also order blood tests and prescribe medications. A 2010
survey by the Mayo Clinic indicated that 54% of rheumatologists would
recommend acupuncture as an additional support for patients with
How Does Acupuncture Compare with Alternative Medical Treatments?
Alternatives to acupuncture treatment include a range of medications
which are often prescribed by a rheumatologist. Our clinic has provided
acupuncture treatment to many patients who use both acupuncture and
medications. Many patients find that a combined treatment approach
offers the best results.
Patients should be informed about these possible side-effects, and
should be an active participant in their own healthcare. You must be
able to tell your doctor what medications you are taking (both
prescription and over-the-counter) and what supplements you are taking
(including vitamins, herbs, minerals, etc.). The medications used to
treat rheumatoid arthritis can have much more serious side-effects when
they interact with other medications or supplements (both prescription
Rheumatologists prescribe these medications (below) when they believe
that the benefit to the patient outweighs the risk of side-effects.
Patients should feel comfortable asking their doctor about the possible
risks and benefits of these treatments. If you are concerned about
side-effects, it is appropriate for you to ask about treatments with a
lower risk of side-effects. A good rheumatologist will listen to your
concerns and offer suggestions.
We offer specialized acupuncture treatments which can safely reduce the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis without side-effects.
This section may need to be updated to include new treatment options.
The medications used to treat rheumatoid arthritis can sometimes have
very serious side-effects. The risk of side-effects increases with a
patient's age, pre-existing health conditions, and the number of
medications they are taking. These side-effects can occasionally include
extreme fatigue, liver
damage, skin rashes, severe diarrhea, blood in the urine and stool,
vomiting blood, and yeast infections. The risk of skin cancer is
increased in people who have had a high level of exposure to ultraviolet
light (such as in treatment for psoriasis).
Medications used to treat rheumatoid arthritis include auranofin
(Ridaura), azathioprine (Imuran), cyclosporine (Sandimmune, Neoral),
gold sodium thomalate (Myochristine), hydroxychloroquine (Plaquenil),
leflunomide (Arava), methotrexate (Rheumatrex, Trexall), tofacitinib
(Xeljans), abatacept (Orencia), adalimumab (Humira), anakinra (Kineret),
etanercept (Enbrel), infliximab (Remicade), rituximab (Rituxan),
golimumab (Simponi), certolizumab pegol (Cimzia), and tocilizumab
The most serious side effects which these medications have caused
include severe infections and cancers (skin cancer and lymphoma, a
cancer of the immune system). Sometimes these cancers go away when
treatment is stopped but other times chemotherapy is required to treat
it. One type of cancer, hepatosplenic T-cell lymphoma, can be rapidly
fatal. This cancer has occurred in people taking methotrexate for
rheumatoid arthritis. These medications suppress the body's immune
system, and some people have had life-threatening or fatal infections
from viruses, bacteria or fungi while taking these medications.
Maryland Holistics has experience
providing natural treatments which can help you feel better, and our
treatments will not interfere with your other treatments.
Steroid medications such as prednisone and betamethasone may also be
used. These can help decrease the swelling and allow the tissue to heal.
Frequent use of corticosteroids can cause significant short-term and
long-term side effects, such as bone loss, skin atrophy, tendon rupture,
weight gain, acne, elevated blood pressure, elevated blood sugar in
diabetics, and reduced ability to fight infections. Frequent use of
cortisone can cause cataracts and in some cases, even the death of bone
tissue in the large joints (avascular necrosis).
Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) may also be used in
treatment of rheumatoid arthritis. These are over-the-counter
medications such as aspirin, ibuprofen and naproxen. In many cases of
rheumatoid arthritis, NSAIDs cannot fully control the pain level. Most
people can take NSAIDs without side-effects for under a week, but
significant side-effects are increasingly likely if they are taken daily
at high doses for more than a week at a time.
Side effects of NSAIDs can include stomach bleeding, allergic reactions,
kidney problems, high blood pressure, strokes, and heart problems.
Among people taking NSAIDS for more than 2 months, 1 person in 1200 has a
side-effect from NSAIDs causing death. Every year over 100,000 people
are hospitalized in the United States due to the side effects of NSAIDs,
and 16,500 deaths are caused by NSAIDs in the United States.
In the hands of an experienced practitioner, acupuncture can offer
significant benefit in many of cases of rheumatoid arthritis, without
any of the side effects of these medications. Many of our patients have
had a significant reduction in symptoms after receiving between 6-12
treatments. Over time, acupuncture usually helps best when treatments
are scheduled on a preventative routine schedule, such as weekly, every
other week, or monthly.
Acupuncture helps the body to feel well-rested and relaxed. Acupuncture
has also been shown to improve blood sugar control, and reduce blood
pressure in people with hypertension. Most health insurance companies
recognize the value of acupuncture for pain-relief of rheumatoid
arthritis, many insurance plans will cover acupuncture for this purpose.
Our practice is a preferred provider with CareFirst Blue Cross and
Our patients include marathon runners, dancers, physicians, teachers,
triathlon athletes, and people of all ages with minor or major aches and
pains. The most common pain-related conditions we treat are lower back
pain, arthritis, sciatica (back and leg pain), knee pain, shoulder pain
/ migraines, PMS symptoms, neck pain, and heel / foot pain.
You May be Interested In:
Contact Our Office
Conditions A-Z (list and web links)
Before Your Visit
Information for Physicians
About Dr. Eric Windsor
Biochemical Research on Acupuncture
How We Work with Lab Tests and Imaging
About Maryland Holistics
Maryland Holistics LLC is the private practice of Dr. Eric Windsor, D.Ac., L.Ac.
Our serene, professional office is located in Ellicott City, MD.
Maryland Holistics has provided care to thousands of satisfied customers
since opening in 2009. Dr. Windsor is a preferred provider in the
CareFirst, Blue Cross Blue Shield, GEHA, and United Healthcare networks.
3525 Ellicott Mills Dr., Ste E
Ellicott City, MD 21043