An unfortunate part of aging is the eventual development of arthritis, which is the long term wearing away of the padding and lubrication in the joints due to age or over use. This causes bone to grind on bone leading to joint deformity, decreased mobility and pain. When this occurs in a joint it is called Osteoarthritis (OA). Young people though can also develop OA from injury or high level sports which have worn the joints out prematurely. Either one or several joints can develop arthritis, it comes down to how active you are and the injuries you’ve sustained. Carrying excess weight can also cause your joints to wear out quicker, especially the hip and knee joints. Arthritis doesn’t exist within Acupuncture as a condition, their pathology falls under the heading of “bi syndrome”, meaning pain syndromes caused by blockages and wind in the muscles and tendons. This is how Chinese Medicine explains rheumatic and joint pains, which are often diagnosed as Arthritis in Western Medicine.
Osteoarthritis according to Acupuncture
Pain in Acupuncture is the stagnation of Qi and Blood. Qi stagnation is a dull ache where if the Blood also stagnates the pain is sharper and more fixed in location. As we age our ability to make and circulate Qi and Blood diminishes, like kinks in a hose, places for stagnations to accumulate will be often be at joints. These stagnations can cause malnourishment of the surrounding tissue which leads to accumulation of dampness that can develop into physical deformities and inflammation. Osteo arthritis In Chinese Medicine is often diagnosed as either damp, heat, cold or a combination depending on the symptoms. This then causes Qi and Blood to stagnate generating pain. It works to remove the blockages and help fresh nourishment into the damaged area to ease pain.
Another cause of both forms of arthritis is actually cold. Though it sounds strange, it works on the same premise how a cold pathogen generates a fever. The cold invasion causes blockages and a battle with your body’s immune system that generates heat. Both forms of arthritis have an element of inflammation, but often moving to a warm humid climate relieves the pain. Anyone with OA will be able to tell you when cold/wet weather is coming due to the pain in their joints. This occurs as the environmental warmth is additional Yang, which has a strong moving and transformation ability. This helps move the stagnations causing the blockages and the body is able to temporarily rebalance itself.
As shown in the Acupuncture Evidence Report, there is strong evidence of effectiveness for Acupuncture and Osteoarthritis of the knee. There was research from over a decade ago showing Acupuncture was helpful with OA of the hip. There has been no other research on OA and Acupuncture in recent times, and therefore the only area we can say it is effective is in regards to the knee. Hopefully more up to date research will be performed in the future.
If you would like more information or wish to ask for help, feel free to call the clinic on 9796 2388