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Can acupuncture help with psoriatic arthritis?

Joint pain

Synopsis

Acupuncture has not been proven to help with psoriatic arthritis or its associated symptoms, and the positive effects are anecdotal at best. It is not part of the recommended treatment. However, acupuncture does not seem to pose a danger either to people with psoriatic arthritis.

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Expert Answers

Dr. Ron Vender:

Acupuncture involves the insertion of fine needles into the skin in special areas releasing natural painkillers into the body. The World Health Organization says that acupuncture is useful as additional therapy in more than 50 disorders including chronic pain. No clinical research directly supports its use with psoriasis or psoriatic arthritis. However, some patients have claimed success.

There is some evidence of benefit of acupuncture for the treatment of psoriasis of the skin. However, the conclusions are limited by the small number of valid trials and conflicting conclusions from single studies. More research is needed to clarify the effect of acupuncture for psoriasis of the skin. The only likely benefit of acupuncture is the possible improvement of pain associated with arthritis, but unlikely will cause the reduction in chronic and progressive joint destruction which is the most serious consequence of untreated psoriatic arthritis. 

Koebner phenomenon states that trauma to the skin can trigger psoriasis manifestations where the lesions occur. This effect seems to be negligible in the case of acupuncture.

If you decide to try acupuncture please be sure to visit a licensed and certified acupuncturist.

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Sandra Walsh:

There is no evidence that I am aware of that shows any benefit for acupuncture use in psoriatic arthritis. There have been many studies on acupuncture use in other rheumatic diseases, however, a systematic review of these studies concludes that there is not much evidence for its effects on pain relief. One recent study from India showed some benefit in reducing fatigue and anxiety for people with rheumatoid arthritis, however, no change was observed in activity and physical functioning. It is important to note that results may not be seen for at least a couple of months, vary depending on the level of skill of the practitioner, and serious complications can arise following acupuncture.

If you are considering acupuncture, make sure your therapist is well trained and using sterile needles.

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Andrew Gosse:

I have had different reports from people with psoriatic arthritis. Some people have reported relief, while others have not. While acupuncture is not part of the recommended treatment for psoriatic arthritis, I do not believe it poses any danger, though I would leave the proper medical authorities validate this statement.

Again, the idea is: “If it helps you, why not?”

It is important to note that I am only talking about discomfort management, here, because acupuncture will not have any effect on the underlying causes of psoriasis.

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Painful joints might hide something else

I want to know what it is