Each year million of people are sidelined by joint pain. Severe joint pain can incapacitate people, making it impossible for them to exercise or live the live they want to live. Most people with joint pain are diagnosed with arthritis, which is general term for a number of different conditions that involve swollen, painful and/or stiff joints.
West medicine look at arthritis
Arthritis is a term used to describe a number of painful conditions of the joints and bones. Two of the main types of arthritis are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.
Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis. Cartilage (connective tissue) between the bones gradually wastes away (degenerates), and this can lead to painful rubbing of bone on bone in the joints. It may also cause joints to fall out of their natural positions (misalignment). The most frequently affected joints are in the hands, spine, knees and hips.
Also known as inflammatory arthritis, rheumatoid arthritis is a more severe, but less common condition. The body’s immune system attacks and destroys the joint, causing pain and swelling. It can lead to reduction of movement, and the breakdown of bone and cartilage.
There are over 200 forms of arthritis. More common forms include:
Systemic lupus erythematosis (lupus).
TCM look at Arthritis
In traditional Chinese medicine, the condition that is congruent with arthritis is called ‘Bi syndrome’. Bi syndrome manifests as pain, soreness, or numbness of muscles, tendons and joints and is the result of the body being ‘invaded’ by the external climatologically factors of Wind, Cold, Heat, and/or Dampness. The symptoms manifested by the individual depend on which external pathogenic factor is strongest.
Western medicine treats Arthritis
Anti-inflammatory drugs are the main weapon that conventional medicine doctors prescribe for chronic inflammatory arthritis. None-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as aspirin, ibuprofen, and gold compounds; and steroid-based drugs such as corticosteroids and immuno-suppressive drugs are widely used for arthritis. Long-term use of these medications can produce side effects such as stomach irritation, gastritis and ulcers.
TCM treat Arthritis
TCM has a threefold strategy for treating Bone Bi syndrome:
Resolve the Bi syndrome and expel the Wind, Cold, Damp, and Heat.
Treat any underlying factors contributing to the development of Bi.
Provide symptomatic relief by stopping pain.
More and more scientifically-designed clinic studies support the use of acupuncture for arthritis. One study examined the effects of acupuncture on 32 osteoarthritis patients waiting for knee replacement surgery. After 9 weeks, patients receiving acupuncture treatment reported a decrease in pain, while pain increased in untreated patients. The patients with acupuncture treatments were able to walk father and faster, compared with the untreated group.
Acupuncture involves the insertion of very fine needles into several points around the body. These acupuncture points are often near to the site of your arthritis pain and may be very tender to touch before the needle is inserted. Other acupuncture points used for arthritis pain relief may be quite a way distant from the affected joint -acupuncturists usually call these areas distal points. Needles placed into points surrounding the painful area, bringing circulation to the area and helping relieve the stagnation that causes pain and swelling
Modern scientific research has also revealed the mechanisms which provide relief for arthritis patients. Studies show that acupuncture can stimulate the production of endorphins ( natural pain-killing hormones in the brain ), and the anti-inflammatory hormone adernalcorticotropin. Somehow, the acupuncture needles trigger the body to heal itself by producing hormones that reduce pain and inflammation. Acupuncture can then be used on an ongoing basis to prevent re-occurrence of arthritis once it has been successfully cured.
Chinese Herbal Therapy:
Herbal therapy is especially important as part of the treatment of chronic cases. The treatment strategy varies, depending on whether the condition is due to heat or cold, or if there is a deficiency of any vital substances. Herbal remedies in chronic cases of cold and dampness need to nourish the underlying deficiency as well as expel the cold and dampness. The most effective formula is one custom-made for the patient’s individual constitution and pattern of disharmony.