Can Acupuncture Help Relieve Psoriatic Arthritis Pain? A Q&A with Dr. Ogdie

By Beth W. Orenstein
Reviewed by Ethan T. Craig, M.D.
October 26, 2022

This article is part of a Q&A series in which a healthcare professional in our community answers your frequently asked questions.

We asked: “I have psoriatic arthritis pain. Can acupuncture provide some relief?”

Alexis Ogdie, M.D.: Acupuncture won’t necessarily bring down swelling, but it may help with pain.

Acupuncture, the ancient practice of inserting thin needles into the skin, is a complementary therapy that may help some people with arthritis, including psoriatic arthritis. More research on acupuncture is needed, but it holds promise as a complementary remedy for psoriatic arthritis pain. And acupuncture has very few risks, according to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health.

The idea behind acupuncture is that by stimulating certain points on the body with a needle, an acupuncturist can help energy (called qi) to flow freely in the body. In turn, this flowing energy helps ease pain. Acupuncture may also be a stress reliever—and reducing stress may also help relieve pain, especially in cases of psoriatic arthritis.

About 30% of people who have psoriatic arthritis also have the skin condition psoriasis. Don’t be concerned that the acupuncture needles could cause your skin to flare. The acupuncturist uses thin, sterile needles to help prevent any risk. However, rarely, a tiny lesion could appear around a needle site.

What Are the Basics of Acupuncture for Psoriatic Arthritis?

A typical course of acupuncture treatment is about eight weeks, with one or two sessions per week during that time. Some people find no improvement after the first treatment, but do find improvement once they’ve had the full course of treatments. So if you opt for acupuncture, give it some time before deciding whether or not it’s working. It’s a commitment.

How Do I Find the Right Acupuncturist?

Unfortunately, it’s not easy to find an acupuncturist in some areas, especially because you’ll want to choose an acupuncturist who’s familiar with psoriatic arthritis or other types of arthritis. You may be able to find an acupuncturist at an integrative medicine center or chiropractor’s office.

Be sure anyone you choose is licensed and qualified. The National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine lists board-certified acupuncture providers on its website.

Some health insurers may cover the cost of acupuncture, but others may not.

What Else Should I Remember?

Seeing an acupuncturist is not a substitute for seeing a rheumatologist who specializes in arthritis, or for taking the medications or other treatments that you and your doctor decide are best for you and your psoriatic arthritis.

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