Monday, May 3, 2010

May is Arthritis Awareness Month

Looking at Arthritis, Acupuncture & Traditional Chinese Medicine - Part One
Arthritis comes in several forms, the most prevalent being osteoarthritis (OA), affecting approximately 10% of the adult population. Below are some quick facts on OA plus links to well known studies. The traditional Chinese medicine viewpoint will be discussed along with the benefits of acupuncture and herbal therapy.

  • symptoms include pain and stiffness of the joint with the possibility of locking
  • due to degeneration of the joint cartilage, frequently in hands, feet, knees, hips and spine
  • risk factors include old age, previous injury, obesity and hereditary factors
  • treatment includes medications, physiotherapy, exercise and weight loss
  • acupuncture may be used to reduce pain and increase mobility
One well known study looked at the effect of acupuncture on osteoarthritis of the knee and found that by the end of the study those that received acupuncture had a 40% reduction in pain and almost a 40% improvement in function compared to baseline levels. The course of treatment consisted of 24 sessions during a 26 week period. By the 8th week there was a marked improvement in pain. Read the press release for more details.

In TCM assessment of the joint function and pain is important including which factors aggravate or improve the condition. The overall body condition including sleep patterns, energy, digestion and mood will also be taken into consideration when developing a treatment strategy.

In OA age is often a factor and as we age our kidney qi starts to decline, the kidney energy is also related to the back and the knees, therefore acupuncture points or herbs to strengthen this energy may be used.

If a previous injury has predisposed a person to arthritis there may be residual blood stasis or swelling. Acupuncture or herbs may be used to reduce swelling, reduce pain and heal injuries by improving blood circulation in the body.

Often a person is limited in the amount and type of exercise due to pain and mobility of the joint either from the arthritis or a prior injury. Exercise can be beneficial to maintain range of motion, joint stability through strengthen the surrounding muscles. Physical activity has the added benefit of keeping weight at a healthy level thereby taking pressure off of joints especially knees and hips.

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