Arthritis isn't just one disease, but a complex disorder comprised of more than 100 distinct conditions that can affect people at any stage of life. Two of the most common forms are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. While these two forms of arthritis have very different uses, risk factors and effects on the body, they often share a common symptom - persistent joint pain.
For many people, arthritis pain and inflammation cannot be avoided as the body ages. In fact, most people over the age of 50 show some signs of arthritis as joints naturally degenerate over time. Fortunately, arthritis can often be managed with acupuncture and Chinese medicine.
Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis, affecting an estimated 21 million adults in the United States. Beginning with the breakdown of joint cartilage that results in pain and stiffness, osteoarthritis commonly affects the joints of the fingers, knees, hips and spine. Other joints affected less frequently include the wrists, elbows, shoulders and ankles. When osteoarthritis is found in a less frequently affected joint, there is usually a history of injury or unusual stress to that joint. Work-related repetitive injury and physical trauma may contribute to the development of osteoarthritis. If you have a strenuous job that requires repetitive bending, kneeling or squatting, for example, you may be at high risk for osteoarthritis of the knee.
Rheumatoid arthritis can affect many different joints and, in some people, other parts of the body as well, including the blood, lungs and heart. With this form of arthritis, inflammation of the joint lining, called the synovium, can cause pain, stiffness, swelling, warmth and redness. The affected joint may also lose its shape, resulting in loss of normal movement. Rheumatoid arthritis can last a long time and is a disease characterized by flares (active symptoms) and remissions (few to no symptoms).
Diagnosis and Treatment of Arthritis with Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine
According to Chinese medical theory, arthritis arises when the flow of Qi (energy) in the meridians becomes blocked resulting in pain, soreness, numbness and stiffness. This blockage is called "bi syndrome" and is associated with "bi" type pain. It is widely studied and successfully treated using a combination of treatment modalities. The acupuncture points and Chinese herbs that are used depend on whether the underlying cause of the blockage of Qi(arthritis) is caused by wind, cold, damp or damp-heat.
Acupuncture and Chinese medicine aim to treat the specific symptoms that are unique to each individual using a variety of techniques such as acupuncture, bodywork, lifestyle/dietary recommendations and energetic exercises to restore imbalances found in the body. Therefore, if 10 patients are treated with Chinese medicine for joint pain, each of these 10 patients will receive a unique, customized treatment with different acupuncture points, different herbs/supplements and different lifestyle and diet recommendations.
Your acupuncturist will examine you, take a look at the onset of your condition and learn your signs and symptoms to determine your diagnosis and choose the appropriate acupuncture points and treatment plan.