Acupuncture & RA

Is it OK for someone with RA on Methotrexate injections and other meds to have acupuncture? One of my friends told me not have acupuncture because our immune system is poor?

24 Replies

  • I am "just" on Humira but acupuncture was banned for me because of the immunosuppression. Fair enough, I don't want to invite complications! But they should be able to disinfect the skin adequately I thought?

  • Firstly ask your doctors if it's OK. Second...make sure the practitioner you use is medically qualified....not someone with a cubicle at the hairdresser.

    I had acupuncture whilst on RTX prescribed by my rheumatologist, so you should be alright having it, but ask first.!

  • Hi, I don’t know if it’s ok whilst on medication, but I had acupuncture just prior to diagnosis and before medication by my GP. However it made things worse for me as regards symptoms and pain. Everyone is different though. Like others advised, I would ask your Rheumatology team or GP before going ahead. Hope you get answers soon. Candy

  • Thank you Candy 😊

  • I think I'm not alone in trying everything before getting a diagnosis. One of them was acupuncture. It didn't help and when I looked it up, all studies show it doesn't have any benefit from putting the needles in the "right" spots versus the "wrong" spots. My guess is it's psychosomatic (which can be valuable I think, especially short term) and maybe the relaxing that happens during acupuncture. I'm not sure just laying in a mellow space with music and lights low for an hour wouldn't produce the same effects. Just my own opinion of course.

  • Thank you cheshcat 😊

  • Yes, I've had acupuncture & I'm on MTX, my Physio was aware. Not only that I've just this week had an EMG, basically lots of needles in various muscles & an electrical current passed through them. I gave him my list of meds again (repeat NCT too) & he ok'd all of them for the procedure. The only med they're concerned about is anticoagulants, warfarin & such, because of the bleeding.

    Your friend may be thinking of anti-TNF's & biologics (unless they constitute part of your "other meds"), MTX is an immunosuppressive & whilst our immune system isn't great acupuncture & tests can be helpful.

  • Thank you no more heels.

    Much appreciated 😊

  • You're welcome. 😊

  • A good acupuncturist should enhance your immune system, but a good acupuncturist may be hard to find. I had acupuncture in the first few years of my RA diagnosis and I went into a flare up each time I had it so I stopped. I have learnt over these long years that we all react differently, what may be good for one may not be so good for the other. Good luck and trust your instincts

  • Thank you Milo247. Unless I can find a reputable acupuncturist I’m going to leave it for the moment, as acupuncture hasn’t has a positive response to help RA & Fibromyalgia symptoms. The last thing I need is a bad flare 😢

  • Info from arthirits UK, a site recommended by my consultant

    - briefly - can be good with an experienced qualitied acupuncturist.

    Elsewhere on the site it says I think, from memory, that it is the only worthwhile complementary of those which they have tested.

  • Thank you Hopeful1 😀

  • Hi

    I take MTX. I asked my Consultant if it was okay to have acupuncture and he said it was fine.

    I have had acupuncture for my hands and feet and it has helped me.

    But I would check with your Consultant first.

  • I had acupuncture,before I was diagnosed, and only made things worse, so I am not In favour, but get terrible flare up, and will try any thing to get free of the terrible pain , I am waiting to have injections ( epidural ) in my spine , I have been told it only got 50% chance of working and if it does work it will probably only take away 50% of pain but I trying it , pray your pain will easy thinking of you Elizabeth x

  • Thank you Elizabeth. We do try hard to improve our circumstances. I wish you well with your impending injections. Stay well. Joanne x

  • Hello there, Acupuncture is one of the oldest forms of medicine and was introduced to the West when Walter Cronkite, an American news anchor, was traveling to an Eastern Country and had to have an emergency operation. They did it without anasthesia, using only acupuncture for the pain. This was 50 years ago so it’s fairly new in North America. The MTX is the one suppressing your immune system so all I can think of is your Doc thought the needles would be unclean? All the needles are disposal and therefore new to you. I had acupuncture on my knees to good effect. My acupuncturist studied in China but they have excellent schools in the U S —probably England as well. Like all doctors, some are good, great or fair. You should go at least 3-5 times as it’s not magic but is still one of the top treatments for pain with no side effects.

  • Errrr...acupuncture has been used in Europe since the 1600's, and in the US since the 19th century. Maybe NIxon's trip to China sparked a greater interest in it, but there have been Chinese communities in the US since the 1800's so acupuncture has been available to those who wished for it since then.

    If you haven't tried acupuncture before then suggest you avoid deep needling, as that most likely to have a strong reaction. I've had it in the past and found it relaxing.

  • Hi helix helix, I was in California where they were just starting to license acupuncturists and it was in the early 1970’s. Yes, it’s true if you knew people in various Asian communities you could pay for these services more or less underground. Yes; the skill has been around for centuries—much longer than western medicine. In my apartment unit in LA, a trained acupuncturist from Guam could not get a lisence as they wouldn’t recognize his credentials. I benefitted from being his neighbor. I think the key word I omitted was became more widely known 50 years ago—but I started by saying this is one of the oldest medicinal therapies in use—-and it’s come so far that even in the US you can get health insurance to cover it! Big change—

  • Well I remember my Aunt (who lived in New York) talking about going to an acupuncturist in the 60's. And she wasn't really the sort to use underground services so perhaps a difference between east coast and west, or degrees of licensing, so licensed for alternative medicine or something.

  • Yes; many people had friends, relatives, and friends of friends who went to acupuncture in the bigger cities of LA and NY—they weren’t underground because they were “bad”—-or illegal. As mentioned, my neighbor worked in a Guam Hospital as an acupuncturist but he couldn’t get an official “license”—He donated his skills to help his neighbor—and I’m very greatful. I remain in awe of the very skilled acupuncturists I’ve known. I hope your aunt had positive results as well.

    ( There are many examples of some good things taking decades to catch on with good healing alternatives) in the meantime they are basically little known or underground)

  • Quite a bit earlier than that in Europe

    In the West, France adopted acupuncture rather sooner than other countries [7]. Jesuit missionaries first brought back reports of acupuncture in the sixteenth century, and the practice was embraced by French clinicians fairly widely.

    There was someone from the US who had it performed recovering from surgery though, a member of the press corps visiting prior to Nixon's visit but despite interest it was decided it wasn't reliable until more recently.

  • That was Walter Cronkite in my above message.—Its not surprising Europe started using acupuncture—being closer to China, Japan, Korea and the Asian countries. My emphasis was not when it first was being used on a limited basis is various countries —but when it became more widely known and used in the US—and Canada and other western countries have similar timetables. Much knowledge was spread through Asian immigrants coming to the US. It’s since become a formal health insurance item now! Alternative methods often take longer—-interesting.

  • My point was it was widely used in other countries decades earlier than you said it was in the US, the UK for one which wasn't a member of Europe at the time so wouldn't be included in the link. So it can't have been introduced to the West by Walter Cronkite because it was already being widely used in Europe, maybe it was introduced to the US by him, that would make more sense. I can reference others but it would get silly.

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