Arthritis is a complex condition affecting numerous Australians, mainly in its two most common forms, osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. Its many forms have differing causes, risk factors and effects on the body, but they share one common symptom—persistent joint pain.
The condition begins with mild symptoms, which can over time develop into more serious difficulties. Chronic or long-term arthritis can cause painful disfigurement of the joints, which affects the patient’s lifestyle. However, if treated early by a treatment such as acupunture or Chinese herbs, disfigurement and ongoing discomfort may be reduced or avoided altogether.
Treating arthritis with TCM
In the view of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), arthritis is caused by a blockage in the body’s “Qi” energy flow. Using traditional methods the practitioner will examine the patient, and taking into account their symptoms and personal constitution, will determine if the blockage is caused by wind, cold, damp, heat, a liver / kidney imbalance, or another reason such as injury or repetitive movement.
Each of these root causes will result in different symptoms. For example, one might feel the pain more acutely when moving the body, while another may experience more pain after sitting for extended periods. Some feel pain in the early morning or while sleeping, and others notice a difference according to the weather and external temperature. Other symptoms are temperature changes around the joint, leaving a burning sensation and redness; or a feeling of coldness at the joints.
To resolve arthritis complaints, a weekly acupuncture treatment is recommended, which may be complemented with a mixture of Chinese herbs. Some symptoms are relieved after only a couple of sessions, while chronic arthritis or more severe symptoms usually need multiple treatments. But in all cases, early intervention can result in significantly reduced symptoms over time, and may mean the patient won’t have to suffer the debilitating and painful experience of disfigured joints later in life.
In treating arthritis, the practitioner will stimulate acupoints all over the body, depending on the patient’s individual needs and symptoms. The hair-thin needles are painless, and while some feel a slight sensation as the needle penetrates the skin, once in, there is no pain and many patients feel relaxed, sometimes falling asleep for the duration of the treatment.
A Scandinavian study showed that 25 percent of arthritis patients scheduled for surgery cancelled their appointments following acupuncture treatment. The same study tested 32 patients awaiting a hip replacement, where half the group was given acupuncture treatments over six weeks. This group showed significant improvements in pain and functional ability, where no major changes were reported in the other group, who had received only advice and exercise therapy.
A randomised clinical trial at the University of Maryland study showed that knee pain in elderly arthritis patients was improved when receiving acupuncture treatment. No patients reported any side effects from their treatment.
To discuss how acupuncture or traditional Chinese herbal medicine may be beneficial in the treatment of arthritis and joint pain, call Dr Tsai and the Meridian Medical Centre team on 1300 886 668 or email us.