Can acupuncture be used to treat osteoporosis?

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(Natural News) While there is no cure yet for osteoporosis, proper treatments that protect and strengthen the bones can help manage the condition. According to a review published in The American Journal of Chinese Medicine, acupuncture can be an effective alternative to conventional treatment methods in treating osteoporosis.

Osteoporosis is a condition in which the bones are weakened, making them fragile and easily broken. It develops gradually over several years and is typically only diagnosed when a minor fall or sudden impact causes a bone fracture. Osteoporosis most commonly causes fractures of the wrist, hip, and spinal bones, although it can also occur in other bones like in the arm or pelvis. Globally, osteoporosis causes over 8.9 million fractures each year. This condition affects 200 million women, especially older women, around the world.

The study was conducted by a team of researchers from Chengdu University of Traditional Chinese Medicine and Shanghai Jiao Tong University School of Medicine in China. The team gathered existing studies and assessed the efficacy of acupuncture as a clinical treatment for osteoporosis. The study included a total of 35 studies involving 3,014 patients on warm acupuncture, needling, or electroacupuncture compared with sole Western medicine on osteoporosis.

Based on their analysis, the researchers found that warm acupuncture can increase the bone mineral density of lumbar spine or the lower back, and femur or the thigh bone. It also increased serum calcium and estradiol levels compared with Western medicine. In addition, warm acupuncture has also been found to relieve pain and reduce the level of serum alkaline phosphatase compared with Western medicine. The researchers also found that electroacupuncture could relieve pain, increase the level of serum calcium, and reduce the level of serum alkaline phosphatase, while needling could also relieve pain.


Because warm acupuncture caused more benefits, it could be concluded that warm acupuncture is more effective than electroacupuncture and needling for osteoporosis. The researchers concluded that different types of acupuncture, such as warm acupuncture, electroacupuncture, and needling, can be used to effectively treat osteoporosis instead of conventional methods. (Related: Osteoporosis remains undiagnosed in millions of Americans; here’s how to beat the disease with nutrition, exercise and sunlight.)

Other benefits of acupuncture

Acupuncture has been used to address many other health conditions aside from osteoporosis. It is said to be beneficial for anxiety, arthritis, chronic pain, depression, insomnia, migraines, nausea, sciatica, sinus congestion, stress and anxiety, tinnitus, and weight loss. Some studies have provided evidence on the efficacy of acupuncture on the following health conditions:

Low back pain: A report published in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine revealed that acupuncture reduced pain intensity and caused better function immediately after treatment in people with low back pain.

Migraines: A review published in the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews showed that acupuncture, in combination with other treatments for migraines, may lessen the frequency of episodes.

Tension headaches: A review published in 2016 reported that having at least six sessions of acupuncture may benefit people with frequent tension headaches. Other studies also showed that acupuncture, in addition to other treatments for headaches, led to decreased headache frequency compared to those given usual care only. Researchers believe that this benefit may be due to needling effects.

Knee pain: A review of studies revealed that acupuncture could improve physical function in people with chronic knee pain caused by osteoarthritis in the short and long term. It also provided pain relief, but it only lasted for up to 13 weeks only. Another review showed that acupuncture reduced the use of opioid medication to relieve pain in people who underwent total knee arthroplasty.

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