Rheumatoid Arthritis Case Study

Case Presentation:

The patient was a 45-year-old woman who had been diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis, RA, for five years. She presented with severe joint pain, especially in her wrists and knees, which had become increasingly worse over the past few months. She had tried various medications and physical therapies, but her symptoms persisted. She was referred to an acupuncturist by her primary care physician.


During the consultation the patient described her joint pain and the progression over the last few years. The patient expressed she was fed up with the pain and annoyed that it has been keeping her from the gardening she loves to do. 


The patient received a course of treatments that consisted of 30 treatments. She did three treatments a week for four weeks and then twice a week for nine weeks. Some of the acupuncture points used in the treatment included GV20, GV14, LI4, ST36, SP6, LR3, and KD3. The needles were left in place for 20 minutes. Heat therapy and microcurrent electrostimulation are also applied to the knees and wrists every few treatments. PEMF therapy was also utilized during some of the treatments. 


During the fourth week of treatment, the patient reported a significant improvement in her symptoms. She experienced a reduction in joint pain, stiffness, and inflammation. She also reported feeling more relaxed and had better sleep quality. By the end of the 30 treatment plan the patient reported that her pain level was consistently below a 2 out of 10. The patient reduced her intake of NSAIDs and was able to perform daily activities with less difficulty. She happily reported that she has been spending lots of time in her garden – her knees and wrists have not been bothering her. The patient continued with maintenance treatments twice a month to maintain her progress and remain pain free. 


Acupuncture can be an effective treatment option for patients with RA, as shown by this case study. After an initial intense treatment phase the pain and symptoms of RA were decreased and manageable. Since RA is an autoimmune disorder it will require maintenance treatments to retain the results. These maintenance treatments will need to occur anywhere from every other week to once every six weeks depending on the specific patient.