The effects of acupuncture on rheumatoid arthritis are not so clear cut. During the early, acute, inflammatory stage of rheumatoid arthritis there is some evidence to suggest that acupuncture might worsen the pain and therefore many acupuncturists do not treat acute rheumatoid arthritis. After some months the acute inflammatory stage subsides and the residual joint destruction may then lead to the development of a secondary osteoarthritis. This type of pain is amenable to acupuncture and responds in the same way as other osteoarthritic aches and pains.
Chronic pain, due to disease of the musculo-skeletal system, is frequently amenable to acupuncture treatment. The published research shows that pain which has been present for many years can respond as well as pain that has been present for only a few months; therefore, from the available information, it is fair to say that acupuncture is ‘always worth a try’ in this type of condition.