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Arthritis Treatments with Chinese Medicine

Arthritis is a term often used to describe any disorder that affects joints. Symptoms generally include joint pain and stiffness. Other symptoms may include redness, warmth, swelling, and a decreased range of motion of the affected joints. It is used to describe around 200 conditions that affect joints. The most common form of arthritis is osteoarthritis. Other common rheumatic conditions related to arthritis include gout and rheumatoid arthritis.

In western medicine, treatment of arthritis usually includes pain-reducing medications, physical activity, and in severe cases surgery and joints replacement. These treatments are also applied to inflammatory types of arthritis, such as RA, along with anti-inflammatory medications such as corticosteroids. From the point of view western medicine, the osteoarthritis is caused mainly because of the damage (due to injury, wear and tear or an infection) of the cartilage tissues of the joints. Rheumatoid arthritis is caused by damage of synovium fluid which nourishes cartilages and lubricates bones and eventually destroys both bones and cartilages. From the Chinese medicine point of view, any type of arthritis is mostly caused by the blockage of proper energy flow or flow of body fluid and sometimes caused by a deficiency of the body, which is usually seen in chronic conditions. The key to resolve the condition is to promote the flow or circulation or restore the balance of the body.

According to traditional Chinese Medicine, there are four types of arthritis:

  1. Zhuo Bi -The afflicted parts of the body become heavy and numb, and the pain worsens on damp days.

  2. Re Bi - This produces swelling, tenderness and sharp pain in one or more joints. The patient finds cold compress will relieve the pain.

  3. Xing Bi - Here, the pain wanders about the body in patients, usually no fixed location.

  4. Tong Bi - Severe pain that settles in one or more joints; cold and inactivity will worsen the pain, heat will reduce pain.

Each type of arthritis require specific treatments, with the main focus on creating a flow of energy or circulation:

  • If swollen and heat sensation is the main complaint, practitioners will need to focus on reducing the inflammation and swelling. In this case, bleeding on the local painful spots will be a quick and effective way to relieve the pain and swelling besides acupuncture treatment.

  • If the complaint is sharp and fixed pain which is worse with cold weather or lack of movement, practitioners have to focus on bringing more circulation and warmth to the local tissue either through herbal hot compress, or moxibustion with acupuncture.

Talk to your registered Chinese medicine practitioner to find out the best treatment for your Arthritis.


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