Bursitis is estimated to affect over eight million Americans. It is a painful inflammatory condition that mostly afflicts those over the age of 45. Bursitis is caused by the inflammation of your “bursae.” Bursae are fluid-filled sacs that lubricate and cushion pressure spots in your bones, and tendons and muscles of your joints. The condition usually results from a repetitive motion in a joint or excessive pressure on the joint. This can be something as simple as resting on an elbow or knee for long periods of time, or the repeated bending of a joint. Swelling, redness, a dull ache, and stiffness can all result. Tennis elbow is, for the most part, caused by bursitis.
Acupuncture has had some promising results in the treatment of bursitis. Needles are strategically placed in and near the area of inflammation around the bursal sac. This may sound painful, but acupuncture needles are extremely small and, when inserted, have could the effect of relieving pain caused by inflammation.
In one clinical trial, the analgesic effect of acupuncture treatment on chronic tennis elbow pain was studied. Forty-eight patients were examined before and after treatment. Half the patients were treated at specific points for elbow pain following Chinese acupuncture rules. The other half were given placebo acupuncture, which avoided penetration of the skin with the acupuncture needle. Fifty-six percent in the “real” acupuncture group reported an overall reduction in pain, compared to 15% in the placebo group. The average length of pain relief for those in the real acupuncture group was 20 hours, while in the placebo group relief lasted for only an average of 1.4 hours. The researchers concluded that acupuncture has a significant effect in the clinical treatment of tennis elbow pain.
So, acupuncture has been proven to be effective in the treatment of bursitis. Now, however, a recent trial says that acupuncture AND “moxbustion” is an even better way to treat this condition. Moxbustion is a form of traditional Chinese medicine involving the burning of mugwort herb. It’s often used in combination with acupuncture to intensify the effects.
Researchers recruited 60 patients with bursitis in the shoulder. Participants were randomly divided into an acupuncture-moxibustion group (32 cases) and an acupuncture group (28 cases). The research team discovered that, in the acupuncture-moxibustion group, seven cases were completely cured, 15 cases effectively cured, nine cases were improved and one case failed. However, in the acupuncture alone group, two cases were cured, nine cases were markedly effective, 13 cases were improved, and four cases failed. The researchers concluded that acupuncture combined with moxibustion on tender points is superior to that of simple acupuncture on shoulder bursitis.