A study published in the medical journal The Lancet found that acupuncture reduces the pain and functional impairment of osteoarthritis of the knee, that it is an effective complement to conventional arthritis treatment, and can be successfully employed as a part of a multidisciplinary approach to treating the symptoms of osteoarthritis. This comes as welcome news, since the main drugs for osteoarthritis are non-steroidal antiinflammatories, which can cause digestive and other wide-ranging problems.
Arthritis means inflammation of the joints. Inflammation causes swelling, stiffness, reduced mobility and, worst of all, pain. Arthritis includes rheumatoid arthritis, rheumatic arthritis, osteoarthritis as well as other conditions, such as fibromyalgia, Lyme disease, bursitis, and tendonitis. 1 in 4 people in the US are affected by arthritis. It is the leading cause of disability among people 65 years and older. Over 20 million people are afflicted by osteoarthritis.
According to modern medicine, the causes of arthritis are varied. Rheumatoid arthritis is considered an autoimmune condition: unable to recognize its own body tissue, the immune system attacks the joint membrane and replaces it with scar tissue. Osteoarthritis (degenerative joint disease, DJD) affects more than 20 million people. It is a condition with overuse, metabolism, and genetic factors being the primary causes responsible for its onset and development. Fibromyalgia is a generalized joint pain that can affect some or all of the major joints at once or individually, with causes considered to be weak immunity, extreme stress or trauma, and digestive disorders.
The older we get, the more likely we are to be afflicted by arthritis. So, howdo we slow this process? Joints are made of soft tissue (cartilage, sinews), which have very little blood supply. On one hand, they must be kept moving regularly to remain soft and supple; on the other hand, overuse by repetition of the same movements can cause brittleness and pain. Finding a daily, regular, and balanced movement and exercise routine is essential to prevention and healing of joint problems. Qigong is both specifically focused on balanced and healing movement, and applies to all types of joint problems. Some people may be so weak or in such severe pain that they can hardly move at all. Rest is the key in this situation. Our innate healing ability will step to the fore if we can simply stop what we are doing, and sit, lie down, or sleep. Have patience if this is your situation: resting may take three to six months to be effective.
Also, Chinese herbs and acupuncture therapy can replenish, regenerate, and rejuvenate worn down organs, bones and joints, and hasten healing considerably. Improper digestion, assimilation and diet may be preventing your joints and bones from getting the nourishment that they need. Nervous temperament may literally burn up your body’s resources, and leave very little to nourish your joints. Unhealed or untreated injuries can impede the flow of energy and fluid to and from the traumatized area, increasing the problem the longer it goes untreated. Weak immunity can allow pathogens to weaken soft tissues around the joints, and bring on pain and swelling.
In the ancient Chinese medical theory, arthritis is called Bi Syndrome , which means joint pain syndrome . There are 4 types of Bi:
Wandering Bi, which can move around from joint to joint. It is caused by and worsens with exposure to Wind*, real or figurative, which penetratesthrough the skin and past the muscles, lodging in the joints.
Painful Bi, causing severe pain, usually in a fixed location or joint. It is caused by Cold* from internal or external sources, and is worsened by cold and alleviated by warmth and movement.
Fixed Bi, characterized by heaviness, swelling and numbness in a fixed location. It is caused by environmental or internal-generated Dampness*, and is worsened on cloudy, damp days, damp environments, and Damp-producing foods.
Hot Bi, with severe swelling, redness, and burning in one or several joints. Generated by Heat* internally, it is usually accompanied by other signs and symptoms such as sweating, thirst, feverishness, irritability, etc. (*These are four of the External Pathogenic Factors that influence diseases and conditions varying from arthritis and allergies to whiplash, yellow fever and more.)
Each of these is treated differently with specific acupuncture, herbs, diet and exercise treatments and prescriptions. For example, wrist or elbow pain that is exacerbated by cold weather can be treated with an herbal formula containing cinnamon, and with acupuncture points and techniques that are warm the Qi. Turmeric is an herb that directs the formula to the shoulder. There is one Chinese angelica to direct a formula to treat Damp conditions in the upper body, and one for the lower body; likewise, there are acupuncture points that dispel Dampness in the upper body and lower body, and decrease systemic Damp in the organs. There are numerous herbal formulae and acupuncture point combinations that treat all types of lower back pain, each one with a differing focus and action.
Clinical experience has shown that arthritis responds quite favorably to Chinese medicine. Generally, one can expect relief sometimes immediately; sometimes it may take more time, until the third week of weekly acupuncture visits combined with herbal medicines. Long-term stabilizing of the condition can take up to three months or more, depending on severity and duration of the problem.
If we can find the source of the problem, and take the appropriate steps toremedy it, we can give back so much enjoyment to your life!