Arthritis most commonly occurs in two different forms. Osteoarthritis is the “wear and tear” type and is the slow degeneration of the cushioning cartilage in joints. The breakdown of this cartilage causes bones to rub against each other causing pain, stiffness and loss of movement. Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic autoimmune disease where the immune system attacks the body, in this case the synovium or lining of the joints. This progressive condition causes inflammation, pain and swelling around the joint, loss of function and disability.
Chinese medicine primarily refers to arthritis as Bi Syndrome which means painful
obstruction syndrome. It can have several causes and will be treated differently according to the symptoms presented. We view it as invasion of external pathogens such as wind, cold, heat and dampness. You will notice that these climatic factors will either exacerbate the condition or make it better. Unfortunately, these pathogens will cause blood and energy to stagnate in the joints which will cause pain.
Acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine approaches the treatment of arthritis by removing those pathogens as much as possible. It may assist by improving local circulation, clearing or reducing inflammation and boosting the immune system. “One study showed that acupuncture was more beneficial, had better patient outcomes and fewer side effects than drugs in treating rheumatoid arthritis.” (reference available on request).
Acupuncture may be used in the local area or distant from the problem to relieve pain and
invigorate circulation. Herbs may be used to nourish deficient conditions and expel those
excess pathogens causing problems. Moxa is a herb that is burnt over an area where the
skin can absorb the herb’s properties and warmth. This is excellent especially if cold is
locked in a joint and needs to be moved. Additionally, diet and exercise are very important
factors in dealing with this condition and will be a part of your consultation. Whatever has ledto the formation of this disease, Chinese medicine may be able to assist.