How does acupuncture help arthritis and joint pain?

From my clinical experience and knowledge of Chinese Medicine, many joints affected with pain (arthritis) can be helped by Traditional Chinese Medicine and Acupuncture.In ancient Traditional Chinese Medicine, arthritis (joint pain) was named Bi Syndrome. Arthritis not only causes joint pain, but chronic or long-term arthritis can also cause disfigurement of the joints. It is very beneficial if arthritis can be treated in the early stages, and it can help to prevent the disfigurement of the joints.

In this article, I am going to share my knowledge about the causes of joint pain, how to maintain the health of your joints through lifestyle and food, and also how to prevent the condition.

1. Symptoms of arthritis (Bi Syndrome)

Most joint pain (arthritis/Bi syndrome) begins with mild symptoms, which gets progressively more serious.

i) Pain
The pain is mainly located in the joint or around the joint. Depending on the causes of the condition, the pain can be different such as the pain being more serious during movement, or sitting for a long period of time then getting up, or early in the morning or only pain during the night whilst sleeping, or pain being associated with the temperature or weather (cold/hot/raining). The pain can be felt differently also, the pain may be a sharp throbbing pain, or a dull ache. People may be affected more so in the upper part of the body or the lower.

ii) Discomfort around the joints
Those with arthritis not only suffer from pain, but may also have the following associated symptoms: stiffness, swelling, numbness or heaviness around the joints.

iii)  Temperature changes around the joint
Some of the pain in the joints can be associated with a burning sensation and redness. Others may have a cold feeling with the pain.

iv) Disfigurement
For certain acute and chronic joint pain (arthritis/ Bi syndrome) can develop disfigurement of the joints. This can affect someone’s lifestyle.

2. Causes of joint pain (arthritis/Bi Syndrome)

Chinese Medicine considers joint pain can be caused by two factors; by the external environment or the internal yin and yang disruption. To discover the cause of the joint pain is essential in being able to treat the condition successfully.

I would like to give you some common causes of joint pain. What causes of the pain do you have?

i) Joint attacked by the external wind
If the external wind is very strong, it can attack the joints and effect the circulation to the joints resulting in pain. This type of pain can move around the body to different joints. It is tends more painful on a windy day.

ii) Joint attacked by the external cold
If the body stays in a cold environment for long-term or has enters a sudden cold condition, it can affect the joint circulation, causing pain. This type of pain, usually is located in the one joint, tightness and stiffness is felt, the pain is more serious during the cold season.

iii) Joint attacked by heat
This type of pain can be caused from external heat, increased body temperature, fever, virus or the cold/flu. All of these causes can effect the circulation to joints leading to joint pain. This pain is associated with localized burning sensation, redness and swelling. In hot climates or when eating hot and spicy foods, the condition can worsen.

iv) Liver, kidney disorder (weakness)
Chinese Medicine considers the liver to dominate the ligaments and joints. The kidneys energy support the bones. If there is disruption to the liver or kidneys, it may cause a joint problem. This type of pain is more serious after doing things and is more of a dull ache. The body may also have the following symptoms: lack of energy, lower back and knee pain, stiffness in most of the joints, dry skin, or swelling around the ankles.

v) Other reasons
Chinese Medicine considers there may be many other reasons that can cause joint pain. Such as; injury, inflammation, repetitive movements (overuse of a certain joint) etc.

3. How does Chinese Medicine help Joint pain (arthritis / Bi syndrome)

i) First of all, it is important to check the person’s body through the Traditional Chinese Medicine diagnosis method. This is done by examining the pulse, tongue and signs and symptoms. This will help to find the root of the cause.

ii) According to the cause and type of pain, certain treatments are chosen for each individual case. This may include acupuncture or chinese herbal medication or scrubbing or cupping or meridian massage.

iii) We also provide you lifestyle and diet suggestions to help recover quickly and for prevention.

4. Common suggestions for lifestyle and diet

As I mentioned before, joint pain is strongly associated with the environment, lifestyle and diet. The following suggestions are very important to help balance your body and improve your condition.

i) If your pain is more serious in cold and windy conditions, please keep your body warm, wash your hands in room temperature/warm water, avoid swimming and exercise in cold water, avoid cold or windy conditions such as fans, cold air-conditioning, working in lower temperatures, especially while you are sleeping. I suggest that you exercise in warm and sunny conditions. The following foods are suitable for this type of condition: onion, ginger, garlic, lamb, prawns, mild chili, mandarin). If you would like more information about diet therapy please see my articles.

ii) If your pain is associated with burning, heat and swelling it is best to avoid eating hot and spicy or warm characteristics of food (such as chili, ginger, onion, garlic, lamb, prawns) or deep-fried foods. The following foods are more suitable for you: celery, carrots, cucumber, peppermint or green tea, all green vegetables, duck. If you would like more information about diet therapy please see my articles. It is also best to try to avoid hot conditions.

iii) Suggestion for exercise: if you have pain it is best to only do a moderate intensity as if it is too strong will aggravate the condition. Especially if you have a weaker liver or kidney.

5. Case Study

One of my old patients, who I have known for over 10 years (every time she gets sick, she comes to see me) came to see me a couple of months ago to tell me that she has been diagnosed with Rheumatoid arthritis. Her main symptoms were both knees and left thumb were very painful (even disturbed her during sleeping), locally there was swelling and a warm sensation, she felt very tired. After my diagnosis, I realised that she has kidney weakness and attack by external heat. Straight away I had given her acupuncture and two weeks of medication. Her body responded very well to the treatment, after three sessions of the acupuncture all of her pain had subsided.

She was very happy with my treatment and I was happy to once again help her.

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2 Responses to How does acupuncture help arthritis and joint pain?

  1. Marilyn Skouros 30 July, 2013 at 4:23 pm #

    Hi, In 2010 I was diagnosed with Rheumotoid Arthiritis and Fibromyalgia.I have the usual, medication SULFASALAZINE/CELEBREX/ENDEP/PANADIENE FORTE. My Rheumotologist is in Hollywood Hospital..My pain is mainly in my lower back and buttocks and feet, an MRIof my lower back did not reveal any abnormalities. I have a TENS machine and use hot packs, but now I am so stiff and in pain that I can hardly walk more than 100 metres. I am a pensioner and on a disability pension but would your treatment benefit me.I have tried physio but found that too painful to do.

    • Ping Ming Health 12 August, 2013 at 3:37 pm #

      Dear Marilyn, we have successfully helped with cases of rheumatoid arthritis and fibromyalgia in our clinic. Our practitioners will need to see and diagnose you using Traditional Chinese Medicine to find out the cause of your symptoms before we can offer you a treatment plan. Please feel free to contact our clinic to make an appointment.

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