Acupuncture and associated Chinese Medicine treatments such as herbal medicine, tuina massage, and medical qi gong, has been shown to aid a wide range of pain related cases. With arthritis there are two parts of treatment, one being a local part to locally reduce inflammation and pain and increase mobility and the other part is secondary to help control the contributions of the body towards developing arthritis (i.e. the auto-immune aspects). Clinically, treatment appears to do both, but the biochemical "how" from a western perspective is yet to be shown. In this study researchers from Peking Union Medical College Hospital in Beijing used a rate animal model with knee osteoarthritis to look at markers of immune system and inflammation changes - particularly expression of IL-1beta and TNF-alpha.
Researchers randomly divided 40 rats with osteoarthritis (OA) into an acupuncture and a western pharmaceutical treatment group (Diclofenac, a NSAID). Within the acupuncture treatment group, electro-acupuncture was used. Both groups were treated for 2 weeks and then biochemical changes were evaluated.
Researchers found that acupuncture can aid osteoarthritis similar to the western NSAID diclofenac. This is important as acupuncture does not carry the risk of peptic ulcer and other complications from NSAID use.
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