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Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine
Volume 2018 (2018), Article ID 8596918, 21 pages
Review Article

Clinical Efficacy of Acupuncture on Rheumatoid Arthritis and Associated Mechanisms: A Systemic Review

1School of Chinese Medicine, College of Chinese Medicine, China Medical University, Taichung, Taiwan
2Department of Rehabilitation, Tri-Service General Hospital, National Defense Medical Center, Taipei, Taiwan

Correspondence should be addressed to Pei-Chi Chou; wt.ude.umc.liam@uohcykceb and Heng-Yi Chu; wt.moc.oohay@uhciyh

Received 25 January 2018; Accepted 7 March 2018; Published 12 April 2018

Academic Editor: Yuan Xu

Copyright © 2018 Pei-Chi Chou and Heng-Yi Chu. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Objective. The objective of this review is to investigate the detailed existing scientific information about the clinical efficacy of acupuncture on rheumatoid arthritis (RA) conditions and to reveal the proposed mechanisms. Methods. We searched the PubMed, EMBASE, Cochrane, AMED (Allied and Complementary Medicine), NCCAM (The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine), and CNKI (China National Knowledge Infrastructure) databases to identify relevant monographs and related references from 1974 to 2018. Chinese journals and theses/dissertations were hand searched. Results. 43 studies were recruited. Each research was analyzed for study design, subject characteristics, intervention, selected acupoints, assessment parameters, proposed mechanisms, and results/conclusions. Conclusions. In our review, we concluded that acupuncture alone or combined with other treatment modalities is beneficial to the clinical conditions of RA without adverse effects reported and can improve function and quality of life and is worth trying. Several important possible mechanisms were summarized including anti-inflammatory effect, antioxidative effect, and regulation of immune system function. However, there is still inconsistency regarding the clinical efficacy and lack of well-designed human/animal double-blinded RCTs. Future discussion for further agreement on taking traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) theory into consideration as much as possible is a top priority.