Pharmaceutical steroids over time actually weaken the bone and inter-joint tissue so multiple steroid injections can actually contribute to degenerative joint disease.
Acupuncture is excellent in lowering inflammation and lessening pain. It stimulates your body to produce natural anti-inflammatories. Add in electrical stimulation that works from the inside to the outside and natural or homeopathic injectables (for licensed acupuncturists certified in this technique), you will be amazed at how much better your knees and other joints will feel.
Mixed results will be dependent upon how bad the joint has degenerated, how much joint tissue is left, how many steroid therapies have been injected, lifestyle such as smoking, poor diet, activity, etc., and of course the patient's compliancy to treatment. If a patient expects 3 or 4 treatments to cure years of pain and degeneration, that would be an irrational expectation. It might take 10 or more acupuncture treatments plus ongoing maintenance of once every month or two to keep the joint in good health. In my practice I have seen amazing results acupuncture and injection therapies for osteo arthritis.
It depends how severe is your arthritis. Acupuncture can treat moderate cases, however, if there is a degenerative disorder, I don't think one can turn it back. It will help with pain though.
Patients with knee arthritis respond particularly well to electro-acupuncture. When knee arthritis is mild or moderate, a limited number of sessions produce very good results. When arthritis is more advanced, or “bone-on-bone,” ongoing acupuncture is needed plus the addition of traditional anti-inflammatory herbals.
Acupuncture can also be combined with conventional treatments, such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, injections and/or physical therapy.
I'd suggest you start with NCCAOM (www.nccaom.org) and check out their 'Find a Practitioner' directory. This will give you a list of board-certified acupuncturists in your area.
Alexandre Hillairet, DAOM.
I recommend seeing a physiatrist who is sports medicine trained to help with your knee arthritis. I am assuming this is osteoarthritis (OA) and not a autoimmune mediated arthritis. A physiatrist can help guide your treatments and oversee physical therapy, of which for OA is proven to to be beneficial along with weight loss. I use acupuncture and electroacupuncture for OA as well for my patients - I am a physiatrist. Overall, in basic science trials, clinical acupuncture from a skilled acupuncturist has benefit and no harm. A physiatrist will be able to ensure that all treatments including acupuncture are helping you protect your joints and achieve maximum function. A physiatrist is better trained than a primary care physician or provider to guide successful treatment of OA.
Thank you for asking this question. You must've found the answers are mixed. You are right; the reason the answers are mixed is due to a few reason: first, there are a few different types of arthritis and also different degrees of illness. Not all of them work with acupuncture treatment, but acupuncture can prevent your other joints from getting worse and help you reduce the pain, if your arthritis is not too bad. "Too bad" means you already have knee locked and form differently. If you are in the early stage of arthritis, I will suggest you do see an acupuncturist ASAP to prevent your knee from getting worse.
Yes, acupuncture can treat and help arthritis. And they are likely to also have herbal formulas that can help a great deal, as well. But I practice functional medicine, which means I'm always looking for the cause of any ailment. Yours may be because of overuse, but the top cause of arthritis that I've seen in my practice is gluten intolerance. So, especially if you have arthritis in other joints besides your knees, you might want to think about going gluten free, as well. Regardless, I would encourage you to find an acupuncturist who has had success treating arthritis. A few phone calls should give you the information you need.
To answer the question = if acupuncture is good for anything, it is good for pain management - both acute and chronic.
So, yes, acupuncture can help with arthritis pain when done by a trained professional. Do not just go to some DC or PT who stick in needles, find a Licensed Acupuncturist, and maybe one who already specializes in sports injury, pain, senior issues or the like. They don't really have to be specialists though, because, again acupuncture is great for pain management.
This is not something that will be a one-time-all-done experience though. It may take time, it may help right away and then return a day, week, month later. It may last a very long time or it may take a few times a week to get under control. There may be some salves, ointments, herbal patches, herbal pills, etc that may be recommended, but a good acupuncturist should be able to help with needles alone.
The extras (patches, etc) are good for in-between treatments if there's a flare up, or something and can assist the needle work.
Like any medicine or medical practice, some patients have different results from others, so if a formula, patch or treatment isn't working for you let the practitioner know the truth, so they can keep working on the right treatment for you. Don't give up on the first try and don't have high expectations and you might be surprised by how well it can and does work.
Find a practitioner that you trust, like you would find a mechanic you like - you don't have to go with the first one you pick unless they are helping you. If it doesn't work out, you can seek another practitioner. I have had people come to me when no one else could help them and I've had people go to others after my stuff didn't help - so remember it is just like any other type of help.
Best of luck to you.