Chinese Medicine & Acupuncture for Arthritis
Arthritis is one of the most prevalent diseases in the United States with an estimated 70 million people affected. As we age, our joints naturally degenerate, causing arthritic pain and inflammation. Fortunately, arthritic pain can often be managed with Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine.
What is Arthritis?
Arthritis is a complicated disorder comprised of more than 100 distinct conditions. Two of the most common forms are rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis.
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) can affect a variety of joints and, in some cases, other parts of the body as well, including the blood, the lungs, and the heart. Inflammation of the joint lining, called the synovium, can cause discomfort, stiffness, swelling. The joint can also lose its shape, resulting in loss of normal movement. RA can be a long term condition, with bouts of extreme pain coupled with remission.
Osteoarthritis (OA) is the most prevalent form of arthritis in the US, affecting approximately 21 million adults. OA develops with the breakdown of joint cartilage, resulting in stiffness and pain.
Joints commonly effected are fingers, knees, hips, and spine. Other joints affected less frequently include the wrists, elbows, shoulders, and ankles. Repetitive injury or physical trauma may contribute to the development of OA.
Treatment of Arthritis with Acupuncture and Herbal Medicine
Acupuncture and Chinese Herbal Medicine have been found to be extremely effective at treating the pain and inflammation associated with all types of arthritis. Several studies have shown that acupuncture can help people with arthritis and related auto-immune diseases.
One Scandinavian study (Scandinavian Journal of Rheumatology 1997) 25% of patients cancelled their scheduled surgery after acupuncture treatment. Patients who followed a regemin of advice and exercise found no improvement, while those receiving acupuncture treatment showed significant improvement.
As with all acupuncture treatment, acupuncture points all over the body are utilized, not just the affected area. Tiny needles are placed at various points, and once the needles are placed most people find the session very relaxing. While each patient is unique, most treatment sessions last 30 minutes, with frequency and length dependent on the patient’s unique circumstances. Some feel relief almost immediately, but most require some ongoing treatment.
In conjunction with acupuncture, Chinese herbs, bodywork, dietary recommendations and excercises can help patients restore the imbalances in their body and relieve pain and discomfort. Treatment is completely customized based on the individual patient’s symptoms.
Chinese Herbs for Arthritis
Some commonly prescribed herbs for arthritis:
- Angelica Pubescens and Sangjisheng Decoction (du huo ji sheng tang)- For heavy and painful sensations at fixed locations in the lower back and lower extremities accompanied by weakness and stiffness.
- Remove Painful Obstruction Decoction (juan bi tang)- For joint pain that increases with cold and is possibly accompanied by heaviness and numbness in the limbs.
- Cinnamon Twig, Peony, and Anamerrhena Decoction (gui zhi shoa you zhi mu tang)- For swollen and painful joints that are warm to the touch and worse at night.
Safe Alternative to Western Medicine
The popularity of acupuncture for arthritis continues to grow as people seek out more natural ways to treat their ailments. People are pleased to find relief without the negative side effects associated with Western medicine.