For those who suffer from arthritis, even simple everyday tasks can be painful. Joint pain and other symptoms make daily life a struggle and finding relief from the pain is often a very difficult task. But by introducing acupuncture and other Traditional Chinese Medicine into your treatment plan, arthritis pain can be greatly reduced, allowing you to more freely enjoy an active and engaging lifestyle.
The most common type of arthritis is Osteoarthritis (OA), which affects over 21 million Americans alone. This form of arthritis occurs when cartilage, the tissue between bones in a joint that allows them to glide over each other, breaks down allowing bones to rub together directly. This leads to pain and discomfort, and the repeated contact between bones causes swelling and reduced motion in the joints. OA commonly affects the hips, hands, knees, lower back, and neck, and is a higher risk among those with past joint injuries, who are overweight, with genetic defects in cartilage or improperly formed joints, and those who are older. Likelihood also increases with repetitive motion putting stress on a joint.
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is the second most common type of arthritis and affects the lining of the joints. This autoimmune disorder causes the body to mistakenly attack the body’s own tissues and can cause damage to the skin, eyes, lungs and blood vessels on top of the damage caused to joints. RA frequently causes painful swelling, but can also lead to long term damage of the joint or even loss of movement. Other symptoms include:
- Swollen or tender joints
- Joint stiffness, prevalent in the morning
- Flu-like symptoms such as fever
- Muscle pain and weakness
When looking for treatment, acupuncture focuses on treating the entire body to restore the balance of energy, or Qi (pronounced “chee”), and allow the body to circulate that energy properly through passageways called meridians. In order to do this a practitioner performs a physical exam in order to create a detailed treatment plan specific to each patient’s unique symptoms and the effects of their arthritis. Treatment uses sterile needles inserted at specific points along the meridians to unblock obstructions and allow the Qi to flow freely throughout the body. Patients who have undergone acupuncture therapy for arthritis in the past have reported experiencing 40% less pain and a 40% increase in range of motion.
Practitioners may also recommend that patients supplement their treatment with herbal remedies, massaging, and stretching. These treatments go hand in hand to help keep your body in balance and help combat pain and symptoms by keeping your body healthy and maintain balance.
Remember to always communicate with your health care providers about any treatments you undergo and medications you take in order to avoid any drug interactions.