Acupuncture has existed in the Chinese culture for well over a thousand years. It involves inserting very fine needles into the skin at very specific points. It's based on the theory that the body contains a life energy (called qi, but pronounced "chee") that flows along imperceptible channels (called meridians) in the body. Pain emerges when the flow of the qi is out of balance or blocked.
The purpose of acupuncture is to get the qi back into balance, thus restoring the body to a healthy state. Another purpose of acupuncture is to block pain, which explains why it has become such a popular treatment for arthritis. Western medical practitioners are just beginning to learn the power of acupuncture. Still considered by most people to be an unconventional therapy, approximately 15 million people in the United States have tried it.
In fact, a number of different managed health organizations and insurance companies cover acupuncture therapy as treatment for various ailments. More and more rheumatologists (a doctor who specializes in the treatment of arthritis and other rheumatic diseases that afflict joints, bones, muscles, skin, and other tissues) have suggested acupuncture in conjunction with their current treatments.
Recent research has shown that acupuncture can be a very powerful treatment for various forms of arthritis, especially osteoarthritis. In one Scandinavian study, 25 percent of the participants cancelled their scheduled knee surgeries because their acupuncture treatments were so effective. The research also suggests that acupuncture for arthritis is most effective when used in combination with more conventional treatments.
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