Acupuncture for Arthritis
Over 46 million Americans suffer from arthritis, representing more than one-fifth of the population. The majority of these individuals have been diagnosed with Osteoarthritis, Rheumatoid Arthritis, or Gout. While these painful conditions can be difficult to treat, you can find natural relief of your symptoms through acupuncture.
How Can Acupuncture Help Arthritis?
Acupuncture is a safe and natural therapy that has been proven to be effective in the treatment of pain. While arthritis conditions often tend to be chronic, regular acupuncture treatments can help manage pain and improve the range-of-motion in the affected joints.
Arthritis is generally viewed as a form of painful obstruction in the body, referred to as Bi Syndrome in Traditional Chinese Medicine. This diagnosis is further refined to include various environmental factors contributing to the condition, such as Wind, Damp, Cold, and Heat. These factors combine to describe the varied symptomatic representations of Bi, capturing the unique condition of each individual.
Do your joints appear swollen, red, and warm? This could indicate a condition of Damp-Heat Bi. Does the pain seem to move in location? You may be experiencing Wind Bi. Is your pain fixed and sharp? A Cold Bi invasion may be the cause. While these descriptions may seem over-simplified, applying the appropriate balancing acupuncture treatment can make an immediate difference in your condition.
Acupuncture for Osteoarthritis (OA)
Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis. It is primarily caused by a degeneration of the cartilage within the joints. As this cushion within the joint weakens with age or overuse, you may begin to experience a “bad knee or hip”. Pain, swelling, and limited range-of-motion increase overtime, possibly leading to a state of permanent disability.
Osteoarthritis presents in several manners within the framework of Oriental Medicine. Most cases of osteoarthritis present as Wind, Damp, Cold, Heat, or Deficiency, and will require regular treatment to improve the condition. Acupuncture treatment will include several constitutional points to address the nature of the condition, for example using Spleen 6 to help transform Dampness in the body and reduce swelling. Additional points can help target the local area of your pain; often osteoarthritis of the knee is treated with deep insertion of needles into the eyes of the knee, the two points located just below the kneecap on either side of the patellar tendon known as XiYan.
Some acupuncturists treat using a distal point method and choose to needle points that control the flow of Qi through the painful area, avoiding any needles at the local site. The advantage of this method is that you are able to move the affected area and test the effectiveness of the therapy during treatment.
Non-Steriod Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs) and analgesic medications, commonly called painkillers, are the typical treatment for Osteoarthritis. Unfortunately, the use of these pharmaceuticals only dulls the pain and does not promote healing of the joints. Acupuncture can provide pain management and improve joint function without side effects or other unwanted reactions.
Acupuncture for Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA)
Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) is a systemic autoimmune disorder that causes inflammation of the synovial membrane & fluid, resulting in painful joints due to your own immune system attacking the body. The condition often affects the distal joints of the body, such as the hands, in a symmetrical fashion. Rheumatoid Arthritis causes the joints to become red, swollen, stiff, and painful, preventing proper use of the affected limb. Overtime, the joints begin to deform, further restricting their range of motion.
Rheumatoid Arthritis manifests as one of three Oriental Medicine conditions: Wind-Damp-Cold Bi (painful obstruction), Wind-Damp-Heat Bi, or Kidney & Liver Deficiency causing Phlegm and Blood Stagnation. Wind-Damp-Heat Bi obstruction is the most common, creating the typical swollen, warm, red, and painful joints. These patterns are differentiated by not only the condition of the patient’s affected joints, but also through diagnosis of the tongue, pulse, and other associated symptoms. Due to the more systemic nature of this condition, the treatment will focus more on the overall health of the patient. Balancing the body to decrease the autoimmune component of the disease is vital to manage the condition of the joints.
Acupuncture treatment for Rheumatoid Arthritis can be very beneficial to the disorder. Severe cases should always be treated in an integrative manner, in conjunction with the recommendations of your Medical Doctor. Therapy with Disease Modifying Anti-Rheumatic Drugs (DMARDs) can be toxic and damaging to the body; alternative therapies that can help manage the condition in an adjunctive manner may allow a decreased use of these and other pharmaceuticals for RA.
Acupuncture for Gout
Gout is another form of arthritis and is due to the deposit of uric acid (monosodium urate) crystals within the cartilage of joints. It most commonly affects the big toe, and is primarily due to a diet rich in protein, alcohol consumption, and genetic factors that contribute to hyperuricemia, an excess of uric acid in the blood.
Treatment for gout focuses on the alleviation of the pain and swelling. Acupuncture targets the transformation of the Damp-Heat congestion or Phlegm and Blood congestion within the joint. Constitutional acupuncture points are used to compensate for the imbalance, and local points are used to target the affected area.
What is Acupuncture?
Acupuncture is a form of therapy based upon the theories of Oriental Medicine that originated approximately 5,000 years ago. Over this extended time, the techniques of diagnosis and treatment have evolved to become highly effective and safe form of treatment. As a holistic medicine, acupuncture focuses not only on alleviation of symptoms, but also on the constitution of the individual.
During the treatment, thin sterile needles are inserted into various locations on the body to alter your physiological function. The needles are retained for approximately 30 to 60 minutes, during which they help to circulate and normalize the flow of energy, called Qi, in your body. When the Qi flows uninhibited, the body will be pain-free and function properly. For many conditions, treatment should be given several times per week during the initial stages, until the condition has improved and become stable.
Chinese Herbal Medicine is often used in conjunction with Acupuncture. Combined, these modalities are the key components of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), the most popular form of Oriental Medicine practiced today. Depending on the nature of your condition, herbal medicine can increase the effectiveness of your therapy or allow for longer durations between acupuncture treatments.
Search altMD today to find an Acupuncturist near you!