If you live with arthritis,
you know what a challenge it can be to find relief from
joint pain and other symptoms. But there are many
things you can do to manage and control your arthritis
and live a healthy, active life. Acupuncture and
Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) can be a powerful
addition to any treatment plan without causing harmful
Arthritis according to Western Medicine
Osteoarthritis (OA) is the
most common type of arthritis, affecting more than 21
million individual in America. It occurs when the
cartilage between the joints breaks down, usually
affecting the hips, hands, knees, low back, or neck.
Some factors can increase
your risk, including a joint injury, being overweight,
aging, and genetics. Putting stress on a joint through
repetitive motion can also increase your risk.
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is
another common type, affecting 2.1 million people on the
United States. This chronic condition occurs when the
lining of the joints becomes inflamed, and can lead to
long-term joint damage and even loss of movement. Women
are two to three times more likely to get RA.
RA often starts in the hands or feet, and usually affects the same joints on both sides of the body. Symptoms include:
Warm, swollen or tender joints
Join stiffness especially in the morning
Flu-like symptoms such as fever
Treatment generally focuses
on relieving pain and preventing further joint damage.
Often this is done through the use of anti-inflammatory
drugs and other medications, as well as through
self-care and physical therapy. In some cases, surgery
may even be needed.
Acupuncture offers a sage,
natural way to control joint pain and other symptoms and
maintain overall health. In fact, a 2004 study showed that
patients with OA of the knee experienced a 40 percent
decrease in pain and 40 percent increase in function after
receiving a series a acupuncture treatments.
A whole-body approach to relief
Acupuncture and Traditional
Chinese medicine (TCM) take a holistic or whole-body
approach to health. According to these theories, Qi
(pronounced “chee”) is the life energy that animates the
body and protects it from illness. It flows through
pathways called meridians to nourish all of the body’s
organs. When there is an imbalance or blockage in the
flow of Qi, physical symptoms may result.
Causes of Arthritis from a TCM perspective
Weakness or deficiency
of the internal organs
History of physical
injury or trauma
Changes with the quality
and quantity of Qi
Blockage or inadequate
flow of Qi
Invasion from external
factors such as Wind, Cold and Heat
upset, mainly related to stress and anxiety
Your practitioner will take
a detailed health history and perform a physical exam to
determine your body’s imbalances. He or she will create
a detailed treatment plan that takes into account your
unique symptoms and the effects of y our arthritis.
During treatment, fine, sterile
needles will be inserted at specific acupoints along the
meridians in order to rebalance and unblock any obstruction
and allow Qi to flow freely.
Your practitioner may also
recommend herbal remedies, massage and stretching. Be sure
to discuss any new medications with your doctor to avoid any
important to remember that there is no “quick fix” for
arthritis, and it may take time and effort to achieve
results. However, there are lifestyle changes you can
make that may help you find relief faster.
Exercise can help increase
your flexibility, strengthen muscles and bones, and
maintain a healthy weight.
Diet is another important
issue. Stick to a healthy diet made up of a wide
variety of unprocessed, organic foods. Your
acupuncturist may also suggest adding natural
anti-inflammatory to your diet.
Stress relief can also
help. By learning to identify your stressors and lower
your stress through techniques such as breathing
exercises, meditation or gentle exercise, you’ll improve
your state of mind and your health.
Maintaining balance in your
life is also key. A good balance of rest and relaxation
with activity and exercise will keep you keep feeling
By working closely with your
acupuncturist and other treatment providers, you will taking
charge of your arthritis and taking a step toward a
What is Ostereoarthritis? National Institute of Arthritis
and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases September 2006.
What is Rheumatoid Arthritis? National Institute of
Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases May 2005.
Joswick, Diane LAc Acupuncture for Arthritis 2006
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