Arthritis is a common condition that causes pain and inflammation (swelling) of the joints and bones. The main symptoms of arthritis include:
-restricted movements of the joints
-inflammation and swelling
-warmth and redness of the skin over the joint
Types of Arthritis
The most common forms of arthritis are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis
OA begins with the breakdown of joint cartilage, resulting in pain and stiffness. OA commonly affects the joints of the fingers, knees, hips, and spine. Other joints affected less frequently include the wrists, elbows, shoulders, and ankles. When OA is found in a less frequently affected joint, there is usually a history of injury or unusual stress to that joint. Work-related repetitive injury and physical trauma may contribute to the development of OA. If you have a strenuous job that requires repetitive bending, kneeling, or squatting, for example, you may be at high risk for OA of the knee.
rheumatoid arthritis (RA)
RA is a more severe, but less common, form of arthritis than osteoarthritis. RA can affect many different joints and, in some people, other parts of the body as well, including the blood, the lungs, and the heart. Inflammation of the joint lining, called the synovium, can cause pain, stiffness, swelling, warmth, and redness. The affected joint may also lose its shape, resulting in loss of normal movement.
Acupuncture has been used to relieve arthritis pain in traditional Chinese medicine for many thousands of years. It has recently become a widely used technique in western medicine both by doctors and others. Acupuncture claims good results in the treatment of arthritis pain. Arthritis pain relief and joint pain relief are among the most common reasons for using acupuncture in Western countries. Many people who suffer from osteoathritis, rheumatoid arthritis, psoriatic arthritis, degenerative arthritis and gout seek pain relief from acupuncture either alongside, or instead of, their arthritis medication or other arthritis treatment.
Western scientific evidence explains why acupuncture provides pain relief. “There’s a lot of research that says when we put an acupuncture needle into the body, a number of physiological mechanisms occurs,” says Brian Berman, MD, professor of family and community medicine and director of the Center for Integrative Medicine at the University of Maryland School of Medicine. A well-placed needle sets off a cascade of events, Dr. Berman explains, producing a signal that travels along the spinal cord to the brain, triggering a release of neurotransmitters called endorphins and enkephalins, which scientists believe reduce the sensation of pain. Research also shows that inserting an acupuncture needle induces the production of cortisol, a hormone that helps control inflammation. Acupuncture may stimulate activity of other pain-relieving chemicals in the body as well.
But do all these biochemical changes relieve sore, stiff joints? A study by Dr. Berman and his colleagues found that after 26 weeks, patients receiving real acupuncture felt significantly less pain and functioned better (as measured by how far they could walk in six minutes) than their counterparts who received sham acupuncture.
The length, number and frequency of treatments will vary. Typical treatments last 30 minutes, with the patient being treated one or two times a week. Some symptoms are relieved after the first treatment, while more severe or chronic ailments often require multiple treatments.
There are many Chinese Herbal formulas that are prescribed for arthritis. Your acupuncturist will examine you, take a look at the onset of your condition and learn your signs and symptoms to determine which herbs are best for you.
Several studies have shown that acupuncture can help people with arthritis and related auto-immune diseases.
In one Scandinavian study 25 percent of arthritis patients who had been scheduled for knee surgery cancelled their operations after acupuncture treatment. In the study, researchers compared acupuncture with advice and exercise for the treatment of osteoarthritis of the hip. Thirty-two patients awaiting a total hip replacement were separated into 2 groups. One group received one 10-minute and five 25-minute sessions of acupuncture, and the other group received advice and hip exercises over a 6-week period.
Patients were assessed for pain and functional ability: Patients in the acupuncture group showed significant improvements, while no significant changes were reported in the group that received advice and exercise therapy. The results of this study indicate that acupuncture is more effective than advice and exercise for the treatment of osteoarthritis of the hip.
Another study at the University of Maryland showed that elderly arthritis patients with knee pain due to arthritis improved significantly when acupuncture was added to their treatment.
The randomized clinical trial, performed at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, determined whether acupuncture was a clinically safe and effective adjunctive therapy for older patients with osteoarthritis of the knee.
Seventy-three patients were randomly divided into 2 groups. One group received twice-weekly acupuncture treatments and conventional therapy for 8 weeks, and the other group received conventional therapy only. Patients who received acupuncture had significant pain relief and showed improvement in function. Those who did not receive acupuncture showed no significant change. No patients reported side effects from any acupuncture therapy session.
Your diet plays a crucial role in helping you avoid or control arthritis. The first objective of a healthy diet is to help you lose weight if you are overweight. Being overweight can cause additional stress to your joints.
The second way a balanced, varied diet can help ease the pain of arthritis is by providing vitamins and minerals that keep your joints healthy and avoiding damp foods such as dairy products and greasy or spicy foods.
If you have arthritis or knee or hip pain, vitamin C and vitamin D can help prevent bone and cartilage destruction. And a multivitamin can help ensure that you always get the nutrition you need.