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I have arthritis in my hand and thumb. Will acupuncture help me?

Q: I have athritis in my hand and thumb. Will acupuncture help me?

A: As you can read from our factsheet on arthritis https://www.acupuncture.org.uk/a-to-z-of-conditions/a-to-z-of-conditions/osteoarthritis.html there is a fair bit of evidence that arthritis can be helped by acupuncture treatment, and the usual response we give says that it is more a matter of how much help and how sustainable the results are. Clearly if treatment only gives a couple of hours of reduction in pain and stiffness then acupuncture may not be the best option, but if the improvement lasts a few days there might be better prospects. The question really is whether the improvement always drops away back to the original baseline or whether there is a gradual overall improvement. There is nothing wrong with knowing that something will only work for a week if the week in question is one where additional mobility is necessary, and of course the joker in the pack is how much treatment may be doing to reduce further deterioration, or 'getting worse slower' as one waggish patient remarked.

However, with arthritis in particular it is really good to get a handle on the possible causes. Although the symptoms are universal, the causes, even in western medicine, can be very varied - repetitive use, diet, heredity, and so on. In Chinese medicine this difference can be crucial because each person will be a unique combination of factors, and treatment can address this unique quality better, we believe, in many cases than western medicine which has clearly defined clinical pathways for all named conditions.

The best advice we can give is that you visit a local BAcC member for advice, and for them to have a look at the exact nature of your symptom in the context of your overall health. There may well be other factors in play which would enable them to determine whether this is simply a local problem or the tip of a systemic iceberg. Most of our colleagues are more than happy to give up a little time without charge to prospective patients to enable them to assess the potential benefits of treatment. We are confident that they will give you honest impartial advice.