Monday, May 10, 2010

Rheumatoid Arthritis

Arthritis, Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine - Part Two

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) occurs when the immune system attacks the lining of the joints causing inflammation. This inflammation may involve other organs and tissues often the heart, lungs, eyes, and in about 20% lumps may form under the skin.

Rheumatoid arthritis commonly affects people between the ages of 25 and 50, although it can occur at any age. In RA joints affected are symmetrical with the most common being the wrist and hand except the most distal finger joints although elbows, shoulders, neck, jaw, feet, ankles, knees, and hips can also be affected.

Studies on using acupuncture to help RA symptoms show that electro acupuncture has the best results with a significant reduction in the number of tender joints and measurable reduction on pain, swelling and mobility. The traditional acupuncture group experienced benefits but at a slower rate. To read the evaluation click here

Arthritis in general falls into the category of Bi syndrome which translates to joint pain due to wind, cold, heat and damp. The pain characteristics will vary according to the cause
  • Wind causes pain to come on suddenly and move around
  • Cold will cause local or general pain and stiffness which improves with warmth
  • Heat will result is hot, inflamed joints with local redness, swelling, excruciating pain and limited movement
  • Dampness leads to heavy sensations with swelling, numbness and is often worse in damp weather
With regards to RA, as in OA an assessment is done to determine which joints are involved, severity of pain, quality of pain, duration of condition, changes in condition, as well as general body condition.

For dietary guidelines for RA can be found here

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