Arthritis is the most common cause of disability in the United States. More than 20 million individuals with arthritis have severe limitations in function on a daily basis. According to the Arthritis Society the total cost of arthritis cases is close to $100 billion. Each year, arthritis results in nearly one million hospitalizations and close to 45 million outpatient visits to health care centers.
Arthritis is defined as a form of joint disorder involving inflammation of one or more joints in the body. There are many types of arthritis. The most common types are Osteoarthritis and Rheumatoid Arthritis.
Most people suffering from arthritis pain have Osteoarthritis, and it is usually caused by trauma to a joint or joints, infection of the joint, or simply age. Osteoarthritis usually attacks the major weight bearing joints such as the spine, hips, and knees. The usual treatment in Western Medicine includes painkillers and anti-inflammatory drugs. In some advance cases surgical procedures which reduce internal joint damage or total joint replacement is required.
Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) is a disorder where the body’s own immune system, for some unknown reason, attacks its own tissues. The attack is directed at the joints as well as other areas of the body. With this type of arthritis most of the damage is found in the joint lining and cartilage, which eventually results in the eroding of the two opposing bones. Treatment in Western Medicine is again drug therapy, to try to ease the symptoms of the disease. Treatment usually also includes corticosteroids, which cause a lot of undesirable side effects. RA usually attacks the fingers, wrists, elbows, and knees.
Osteoarthritis and Rheumatoid Arthritis are a common clinical complaint in Chinese Medicine. In our clinic we treat these conditions at least 20 times per day. The acupuncture and Chinese herbs work well for Osteoarthritis. However, Rheumatoid Arthritis is much more challenging to treat.
As long as the condition is not too advanced, acupuncture is very effective in eliminating or greatly reducing the pain that the patient feels. Since the pain is usually caused by inflammation, and since the pain is reduced, we can only assume that the inflammation is reduced as well. In our clinic we send patients with joint pain for digital infrared thermal imaging of the symptomatic areas. The thermal images are very descriptive and will reveal whether the joint is inflamed or if the joint is lacking in blood flow. Repeat thermal imaging also clearly indicates the progress of the treatments the patient has been receiving, and gives an objective verification of the patient’s decrease in pain.
The treatment for arthritis in Chinese medicine is two-fold. First, stop the pain. And second, increase blood flow to the damaged joint so that it may begin to heal. Even though Western Medicine classifies Rheumatoid Arthritis and Osteoarthritis as inflammatory diseases, in some cases we will actually heat up a joint to stop the pain, rather than cooling it off. Chinese medicine adds one more layer of sophistication in the treatment of arthritis, in that it distinguishes the difference between a truly inflamed joint and a joint that is suffering from reduced blood flow. For cases of reduced blood flow the method of relief in Chinese Medicine is to warm the joint. This is the exact opposite from Western Medicine and could explain why this medicine can be more successful in treating this common disease.
If you suffer from arthritis pain give Chinese Medicine a try before you allow your body to be literally poisoned with a lifetime of Western Medicine drug therapies. Often, this ancient medicine can produce amazing results and give you a life free of the side effects of long-term drug use.